How Edmonton could ban plastic bags, straws and styrofoam by 2023
The City of Edmonton is getting closer to banning several single-use items and imposing fees for other commonly-trashed stuff, and a new city document has revealed details about how it might work.
Under the proposed rules, plastic shopping bags would be banned along with plastic straws and styrofoam cups and containers.
Customers would also have to pay a minimum fee of 25 cents for disposable cups, a 15 cent minimum fee on paper bags, and a $1 fee on reusable bags.
"This means fewer single-use items will be discarded as litter or thrown in the garbage, moving us closer to our goal of diverting 90 per cent of waste from the landfill," the report said.
In an effort to slash the amount of trash in Edmonton, city council previously asked administrators to study a new bylaw and how it could align with a similar federal ban announced in 2020.
The "backgrounder" report says an estimated 450 million single-use items (SUI) are thrown away every year in the city, including more than 100 million takeout containers, 119 million utensils and 92 million plastic bags.
"There are environmental, social, and economic impacts from the production, consumption and disposal of SUI, such as greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of natural resources, and water pollution."
The document is part of the city's 25-year Waste Strategy that has a goal of a "zero waste future."
FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS TO COME IN 2022
The proposals in the report are being used in consultations with stakeholders, and the final rules have not been approved.
The plan is still up for debate and the bylaw won't pass until councillors and the public have a chance to consider the details at a public hearing in 2022.
"The City of Edmonton is talking to businesses, event organizers, charitable food service providers, and other organizations about the draft recommendations and how the city can support their transition to using fewer SUI," the document said.
The report suggests "voluntary measures" like businesses only offering utensils, napkins and ketchup packets to customers who request them.
Accommodations would be made for people with disabilities.
Restaurants will also be encouraged to use reusable dishes and accept containers that customers bring in, but that will not be mandatory, and paper or cardboard food containers would still be allowed without a fee.
PLAN COULD GO FURTHER: WASTE FREE EDMONTON
The plan sounds pretty good to Waste Free Edmonton – a local non-profit working to promote consuming less and reusing more – but the group's co-founder said the rules could go further.
"What we would have liked to have seen is for takeout containers to be treated the same as cups, where you can still use single-use items in a transition, but you have to pay for them," Sean Stepchuk said.
"By having to pay, it creates a disincentive to do that, and it makes it so an individual has to have a second thought."
He believes that would encourage people to bring their own containers, which is ultimately the best option for the planet.
Stepchuk wants the plan implemented on an "urgent basis" and said the planet has a plastic crisis, which is connected to a climate change crisis.
"As long as we see this implemented in 2022, I'll be happy. Could it have been sooner? Yes. But, I think doing this now will also provide leadership for other municipalities," Stepchuk said.
The report found that 42 per cent of all large litter collected in 2019 consisted of single-use items.
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