- The government of Ontario, Canada is considering a ban on single-use plastics. The idea was put forth in a discussion paper from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks about diverting more waste from landfill and reducing litter.
- In addition, Ontario is considering a deposit return program for plastic bottles and other containers as well as expanding its current Blue Box Recycling program to a "full producer responsibility." The government estimates that second idea could save municipalities more than $125 million per year.
- The paper also lists many potential ideas to reduce disposal, including a ban on food waste in landfills, providing "clear rules" on compostable items, focusing on consistency in municipal recycling programs across the province and expanding recycling programs to include items such as fluorescent light bulbs, power tools, rechargeable batteries, clothing and appliances.
The discussion paper estimates Ontario's overall diversion rate is 30% and the province recovered about 28% of the plastic packaging it generated in 2017. An estimated 10,000 tons of plastic debris enters the Great Lakes each year. Much of the plastic waste consists of food take-out containers and plastic bags. Last year, Vancouver, British Columbia voted to ban those items as well as straws and plastic food service items by this summer. Ontario is said to be looking to that province and others for guidance in developing its own plans.
Single-use plastic bans are catching on in the United States as well. Last year Seattle became the first U.S. city to ban straws and New York banned expanded polystyrene foam food service containers. California passed a law barring restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws. The Hawaii State Senate just voted to approve a statewide plastic ban that is awaiting approval from the House. And the Albuquerque City Council has proposed a sweeping ban for numerous plastic products including foam, straws and bags.
Unlike some other governments that simply dictate material bans, Ontario is taking stakeholders' and the public's opinions into account. Anyone interested is asked to give feedback about the ideas listed in the discussion paper and rank their waste diversion priorities until April 20. The feedback could end up shaping the government's suggested waste and recycling policies or perhaps even leading to other ideas not yet proposed.