Plastic Reduction Strategy

Oxygenate was founded in Toronto and we are actively participating in the city’s strategy to tackle climate change. Toronto was ranked as #1 in population growth in central cities in North America. The city of Toronto has been taking action to establish a long-term waste management strategy to manage approximately 900,000 tonnes of waste.

Our operations lead and I attended the Single-Use and Takeaway Item Reduction Strategy at City Hall on September 24th. Last Fall, the city identified single-use or takeaway items as a top priority to reduce and discussed the preferred approaches to reduce these items. We attended to phrase 2 which was about consulting with the public and communicating the approaches and deadlines the city is trying to implement.

- City Hall in downtown Toronto

The city focused on reduction and reuse as the main focus of  waste strategy. In order to engage with the public, the City of Toronto teaches waste management practices to many communities. The Federal Government is committed to exploring regulations for plastic waste by 2021. It includes bans, restrictions and extended producer responsibility. The Reduction strategy is focused on REDUCTION not SUBSTITUTION. More than 75% of participants supported mandatory approaches to reduce single-use items such as plastic bags, polystyrene foam and black plastic takeout containers from the phase 1 consultation.

Proposed Items

Single-Use Eating Utensils

  • Over 2,069 pieces of plastic cutlery counted on Toronto shoreline
  • The operational challenges in recycling facilities
  • The preliminary list of items to be targeted for reduction by the federal government

Single-Use Hot and Cold Drink Cups

  • Over 39M units generated by single-family household
  • It's a challenge to recycle for our current recycling system
  • Hot cups are the most frequently used item
  • 63% of respondents are very willing to use a reusable container

Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags

  • Over 400M bags generated by single-family households
  • Many Canadian cities have variations of bylaws that restrict the distribution of plastic bags
  • Reduction Strategy prioritizes reduction and is not about substitution with other materials

Single-Use Straws

  • 5,748 straws counted on Toronto shoreline
  • The highest levels of support for a reduction in Phase 1
  • One of the commonly littered items   

Expanded Polystyrene (Foam) Food Takeaway Containers and Cups

  • Over 85M units generated by single-family households
  • Alternative available
  • The operational challenge to collect, process and market 
  •  the federal government has placed this item on a preliminary ban list

Proposed Items time line & approach

- Proposed items timeline

City of Toronto displayed the years in which they plan to apply the strategy and regulations. Charlotte Ueta (Manager, Waste Management Planning, Policy, Planning & Support, Solid Waste Management Services) and Annette Synowiec (Manager, Business Operations and Change Initiatives Manager, Unit for Research Innovation and a Circular Economy, Policy, Planning & Support, Solid Waste Management Services) had a Q&A session to interact with the public. Many of audience wished for early enforcement of banning plastic usage. However, it is a long process.

 

We believe that the little steps that many individuals are taking will eventually help society reduce the amount of waste we are creating. We hope to invest more in educating the public of their wasteful habits. We believe this create better change rather than enforcing fees for wasteful behaviour in the long term. One comment from an audience member was that trying to appease everyone will not bring change fast enough. I too, believe that the governing body should focus on helping our environment rather than cater to the demands of businesses and their wasteful actions.

- City Hall in downtown Toronto
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Contact at info@oxygenate.ca

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