June 1, 1999
To:Works and Utilities Committee
From:Barry H. Gutteridge
Commissioner, Works and Emergency Services
Subject:Soft Drink Containers Originating From Vending Machines
To respond to a request from the Works and Utilities Committee to research specific issues related to plastic soft drink
containers from vending machines.
Funding Sources, Financial Implications and Impact Statement:
There are no financial implications resulting from this report.
It is recommended that this report be received for information.
At its meeting of March 24, 1999, the Works and Utilities Committee requested the Commissioner of Works and
Emergency Services to research the following issues and report back to the Committee by June 1999:
1)the cost to the City for handling plastic soft drink containers that come from vending machines; and
2)the licensing provisions available to the City to require soft drink vending machine operators to either operate two-way
vending machines or else place a reverse vending machine in proximity to vending machines.
Comments and Discussion:
Cost to Handle Plastic Soft Drink Containers from Vending Machines
In order to determine the cost to the City to handle plastic soft drink containers from vending machines, it is necessary to
know the quantities of beverages sold in these containers through vending machines and the percentage that end up in the
City's recycling or waste stream. Staff contacted the Canadian Soft Drink Association (CSDA), who indicated that the
majority of single-serve soft drinks are sold in aluminum cans, but were not willing to provide specifics on quantities of
beverages sold in plastic soft drink containers through vending machines, as this information is considered to be
In addition, it is unknown how many plastic soft drink containers from vending machines find their way into the City's
recycling or waste streams. According to the CSDA, the majority of vending machines are on private property. For any
vending machines on private property, the soft drink containers would likely either end up in the private sector waste or
recycling stream and would not be a cost to the City. However, single serve beverages purchased from vending machines
on public property or for that matter from private street front stores, such as corner stores, convenient marts, and drug
stores, would most likely end up in the waste stream via the city litter bins.
Licensing Requirements for Soft Drink Vending Machine Operators
According to the Licensing Commission, the licensing provision available to the City to require soft drink vending
machine operators to either operate two-way vending machines or else place a reverse vending machine in proximity to
vending machines is for Council to make an amendment to by-law 20-85. By-law No. 20-85, a by-law "Respecting the
licensing, regulating and governing of trades, callings, businesses and occupations in the Metropolitan Area", being a
by-law of the former Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, is the applicable City by-law governing the licensing of
businesses. The authority of the City to add to the licensing requirements of the by-law is governed by Part XVII.1 of the
Two-way vending machines and reverse vending machines are in essence a form of deposit-return. In this respect, Legal
Services has referred us to the report, dated April 9, 1998, from the City Solicitor entitled "Implementation of a
Deposit/Return System for Wine and Spirit Containers", that was before Council at its meeting on April 28 and May 1,
1998. Legal Services advises that the issues set out in that report relating to licensing would apply and, in particular, the
fact that the courts will carefully examine the licensing scheme, the "business" that is being licensed and the municipal
purpose behind the scheme. The courts are wary of colourable attempts to regulate indirectly what is not otherwise
permitted and a court may conclude that such an attempt exists in this case given that the primary purpose behind the
proposed licensing is in respect of waste management objectives.
By-law No. 448-1998 was enacted by Council on July 10, 1998 amending By-law 20-85 to require the licensing of vendors
of alcoholic beverages and the establishment and operation of a liquor and wine bottle deposit and return system as a
condition of licensing. In response, The Minister of Municipal Affairs intervened with Regulation 700/98 made under the
licensing provisions of the Municipal Act preventing municipalities from imposing any conditions requiring vendors of
alcoholic beverages to establish, operate or maintain a system or facilities for the return of containers for alcoholic
beverages. In any event of the issues above, the Province may similarly intervene if similar "deposit-return" provisions are
attempted by way of licensing.
It is not currently possible to determine the costs to the City for handling plastic soft drink containers that come from
vending machines, due to a lack of information on the quantities of such containers sold in Toronto and the quantities that
end up in the City's recycling or waste streams.
The licensing provision that is available to the City to require soft drink vending machine operators to operate two-way or
reverse vending machines is to amend by-law 20-85 to make it a condition of licensing. Such an amendment may be
blocked by the provincial government, as was the case with Toronto's proposed deposit-return system for liquor and wine
Co-ordinator, Waste Diversion Planning
Solid Waste Management Services
Phone: (416) 392-5806
Fax: (416) 392-4754
Angelos BacopoulosBarry H. Gutteridge
Solid Waste Management ServicesWorks and Emergency Services