Tackling single-use waste requires a multi-stage approach to solve it. These are some of the key policies that can help us make big strides towards reusables:

  • Restrictions and regulation to reduce materials - where alternatives exist
  • Avoid unnecessary use - ‘ask-first’ by-law to ensure people only get cutlery, or condiments if they really want it; offer reusable and bulk options 
  • Require reusable alternatives - ensure that customers can bring their own bags, clean cups and containers to avoid single-use plastic and items
  • Require reusable for dine-in - ensure that restaurants have reusable dishes
  • Ban the worst materials - those that can’t be safely or practically recycled or reused, that contain toxic elements and additives that harm the environment or humans.

Bans are important in stopping the production of the worst plastics, those that are wreaking havoc through the full life cycle of production, use, and disposal.

Canada, like many other countries, passed a national ban on key single-use plastic items to stop the downstream harms of these wasteful and unnecessary products. Starting in December 2023, businesses big and small across Canada have phased out single-use shopping bags, takeout foodware made of foam (styrofoam) or black plastic, utensils, stir sticks and some straws.

The majority of Canadians support the ban and want to see it expanded, but the federal ban is under threat. The oil and plastic industry is aggressively fighting back, causing uncertainty as it drags the government through the courts trying to quash it. Sadly, this kind of corporate bullying happens in any country, city or jurisdiction that takes steps to reduce or regulate plastics.

Toronto can stand up to the plastic industry and pass a municipal by-law to ban the worst single-use plastics like plastic bags, foam foodware and black plastic. Why bring in a local ban when a federal one already exists? To avoid losing all the progress we’ve just made. If the federal ban on plastics changes or is removed altogether, we’d see a return of cheap plastic bags tangled in trees or floating in our waterways, foam clamshells contaminating the recycling bins, and other single use plastics filling up our garbage. A local ban means that no matter what happens with the federal government and in the courts, we can be sure those plastic items are gone from our city for good. 

Read more about how Toronto is starting the process of banning certain plastics.