City officials say they may begin charging a new tax on single-use takeaway plastics in Toronto, in order to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the city's landfills. Hot beverage cups are one of Toronto's top "blue bin offenders", along with other single-use takeaway containers. Many people don't know that containers with food left inside and hot beverage cups lined with plastic are not able to be recycled, and must be thrown out in the garbage.
City staff claim that Toronto's single-family homes produce over a thousand tonnes of paper cup waste annually. The city is currently holding public consultations to develop a strategy that effectively reduces the massive volumes of garbage that accumulate in landfills.
According to CTV News, one of the strategies the city is considering involves charging a tax on single-use takeaway plastics. Councillor Gord Perks, however, referred to this option as a "second-best choice". His vote is to adopt an alternative strategy: enforce the production of recyclable containers and cups.
Perks told CTV News, "You have to write in law that you have to design a product or package that is easy to recycle with the existing system."
Some city staff question how a tax on single-use takeaway plastics would affect Toronto's economic health. "I’m buying a cup of coffee in the morning; I’m going to get hit with another five cents? How many times is the consumer going to get hit?", commented councillor James Karygiannis.
"We want business to thrive and we don't want them to be the tax collectors," James Pasternak told reporters.
In early March, the Ontario New Democratic Party announced its plan to propose a bill that would ban single-use throwaway plastics. Shortly after, the Progressive Conservative government claimed it would consider proposing a plan to ban non-recyclable plastics, as well.
Back in 2009, City officials began charging consumers a five-cent plastic bag tax, but rescinded it three years later. At the time the fee was in effect, plastic bag usage decreased by 53 percent.
Toronto's first public consultation on single-use plastics was held last October. The second round of consultations will begin later this year, officials told CTV News.