Edmonton city council has moved to ban some single-use plastic items and Styrofoam containers by next summer.
The bylaw approved Wednesday will ban the use of single-use plastic shopping bags and will impose a mandatory minimum fee of 15 cents on new paper shopping bags and $1 for new reusable shopping bags. These fees will increase on July 1, 2024 to 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a new reusable bag.
Styrofoam containers will also be banned.
In addition, customers at restaurants will be required to ask for single-use accessories like utensils made of any material. Restaurants must serve dine-in drink orders in reusable cups, and restaurants and event organizers must develop policies to allow customers to bring their own reusable drink cups.
The bylaw takes effect July 1, 2023.
“We want to make sure that we are doing whatever we can possibly do to reduce the use of these single-use items,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.
Every year, Edmontonians discard an estimated 450 million single-use items such as shopping bags, takeout containers, cups, utensils and straws. The majority of these items end up in landfills, but they also end up littering streets, parks and other open spaces.
“I think it will allow Edmontonians to, first of all, understand how damaging those single-use items can be to our environment,” Sohi said. “But also, the sightliness of our city. When you go for a walk — I don’t know if it’s just me — but I’m noticing more and more litter on our streets, in our parks, in our river valley.”
The city said while the bylaw can be enforced, it will take an education-first approach to ensure Edmontonians are aware of the rules.
“It’s important. We have so much work to do as a city to reduce waste, to divert waste from landfills and this is one small part of that,” Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack said.
The federal government has moved to ban Canadian companies from importing or making plastic bags and takeout containers by the end of this year. By the end of 2023, the sale of these items will also be prohibited in Canada.
While the city acknowledges the federal ban, Knack said the city bylaw goes a bit further than the federal rules and will come into place six months before the federal ban.
“It really does try to strive for greater reuse and it’s not just stopping people from throwing out, it’s also trying to make sure we’re all working towards that stage of carrying a few extra reusable bags,” Knack said.
The city said the July 1, 2023, implementation date will also give businesses time to adapt to the new rules.
“Our city administration engaged with businesses, I regularly talk to businesses,” Sohi said. “I have not heard any concerns from business leaders on this, but we will continue to provide them the necessary tools available, educational opportunities and options that will help them adjust to some of the changes.”
How businesses can adjust to the ban of single-use plastics
Knack said he didn’t hear much pushback from his constituents on the topic, receiving maybe two or three emails over the last year, which he said is shockingly low.
“We’re at that point now where we all generally realize we’ve got to do this for our environment. We’ve got to reduce the amount of things we put out in waste,” he said. “It’ll be a little bit inconvenient at the start, like some of these changes are, but then very soon we’re going to get the hang of it.
“Even when I’m doing grocery shopping, I’m thinking about the products I’m buying and how much waste that will produce. Because I realize if I’m not thinking of that, that can have a much broader impact.”
More information on the bylaw can be found on the city’s website.
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