A single-use or takeaway item is any product designed for a single use after which it is disposed of in the garbage, Blue Bin (recycling) or Green Bin (organics). Typically, these products are not designed for durability or reuse. Examples include coffee cups and takeout containers.

On June 9, 2021, Toronto City Council approved the Single-Use and Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy – Stage 1 report to help reduce single-use and takeaway items in Toronto.

A Voluntary Measures Program (VMP) will be the first stage of the Reduction Strategy. The VMP will encourage businesses to voluntarily implement actions to reduce single-use and takeaway items.

To receive updates about the City’s Single-Use & Takeaway Item Reduction Strategy, subscribe to the Long Term Waste Management Strategy email list.

The Single-Use and Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy – Stage 1 staff report  was approved by Toronto City Council on June 9, 2021.

A Voluntary Measures Program (VMP) will be the first stage of the Reduction Strategy. The VMP will encourage businesses to voluntarily implement actions to reduce single-use and takeaway items. This includes:

  • adoption of an “ask first/by request” approach for items such bags, straws, eating utensils and more
  • asking businesses to consider accepting reusable takeout containers and beverage cups
  • incentives and recognition from the City of Toronto for businesses that adopt voluntary measures to reduce single-use and takeaway items.

COVID-19 Considerations

The City is taking into consideration the social, financial, and health-related impacts of the reduction measures on Toronto residents and businesses as a result of COVID-19.

The Voluntary Measures Program is intended to avoid placing additional financial pressures on residents and business through fees, bans or bylaws.

Government of Canada

In December 2020, the City provided input on the Federal Discussion Paper: A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products to prevent waste and pollution.

The Voluntary Measures Program also allows time for the City to better understand the Federal Government’s plan to ban or restrict a list of six single-use plastic items by the end of 2021.

Reducing single-use and takeaway items supports recommendations established in the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy (Waste Strategy), which was adopted by City Council in July 2016.

The Waste Strategy places priority on reducing waste and minimizing the amount sent to landfill and directs the City to explore where greater waste reduction can be achieved through:

  • banning of certain packaging or materials
  • imposing levies
  • mandating source separation
  • implementing disposal bans
  • developing local Extended Producer Responsibility measures.

In July 2018, City Council directed staff in Solid Waste Management Services to:

  • consult with residents and stakeholder groups on single-use plastics and takeaway packaging items for targeted reduction, and solicit input on policy tools
  • develop a work plan aimed to reduce the use of single-use or takeaway packaging or products
  • develop a policy to restrict plastic straws in the City of Toronto.

Phase 1

Phase 1 public and stakeholder consultations were held in the fall of 2018.

Objectives

  • Identify the top priority single-use or takeaway items to reduce
  • Identify the preferred approaches (e.g. voluntary, mandatory or a combination) to reduce items

Activities

More than 20,000 people participated in Phase 1 consultation through the following:

  • Online survey
  • Public event, webcast and webinar
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • Direct email communications
  • Polling survey of 1,000 Toronto residents to gather statistically significant data

Watch the October 2, 2018 public event webcast online or view the presentation.

Results

As summarized in the Executive Summary Public Consultation Report on Phase 1 Consultation, the majority of participants expressed support for:

  • the reduction of single-use and takeaway items
  • reusable items instead of disposable items
  • the implementation of both mandatory and voluntary approaches to achieve reduction of these items in the city of Toronto.

Results of Phase 1 consultations are available in the Single-Use and Takeaway Items Public Consultation Report.

A summary and the results of the Phase 1 consultations are outlined in a report to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on May 23, 2019.

The responses to the quantitative questions in the online survey are available through the City of Toronto Open Data Portal.

Phase 2

Phase 2 public and stakeholder consultations were held in the fall of 2019.

Objectives

  • Gather feedback on approaches to reduce specific single-use and takeaway items
  • Gather feedback on proposed implementation timelines to reduce specific single-use and takeaway items

Activities

More than 41,000 people participated in Phase 2 consultation stakeholder and public consultation activities including:

  • Telephone/web town halls
  • Online survey
  • Public event and webcast
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • Polling

Watch the September 24, 2019 public event webcast online or view the presentation.

Results

Results of the Phase 2 consultations are summarized the Single-Use and Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy Phase 2 Public Consultation Report.  

In Phase 2, results from the independent polling found that:

  • 75% Toronto residents support by-request/ask first bylaws for single-use eating utensils and straws, and a ban on foam food containers/cups
  • A fee for hot drink cups had 64% support
  • Two thirds of residents believe that an additional single-use or takeaway item that should be targeted by the City’s Reduction Strategy is black plastic food containers.

Results from the online survey indicate that:

  • Participants placed highest priority on a bylaw to address expanded polystyrene (foam) products. 95% of respondents support a ban on expanded polystyrene (foam) food takeaway containers and cups
  • 84% support a fee per single-use hot or cold drink cups
  • 91% of survey participants support a fee per single-use plastic bag.

Solid Waste Management Services collects personal information under the legal authority of the City of Toronto Act, 2006, SO 2006, Chapter 11, Schedule A, s 136(b) and (c) and the City of Toronto By-law No 1321-2018. All information collected is in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The information collected to connect participants to the Telephone Town Hall in Phase Two of the Single-Use and Takeaway Items consultations was used to call participants with the telephone number provided and send a link to the presentation by email.

Questions about this collection can be directed to the Manager, Public Consultation, Metro Hall, 19th Floor, 55 John Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3C6 or by telephone at 416-392-2990.