On June 9, 2021, Toronto City Council adopted the Single-Use and Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy – Stage 1 report as the first stage of a Reduction Strategy 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. This includes: 

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

The VMP is intended to avoid placing additional financial pressures on residents and business through fees or requiring businesses to incur costs to develop and train staff on new business processes required for bylaw compliance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants may have pivoted to a takeout and third-party delivery model and are relying on the use of single-use and takeaway items.

By implementing the VMP first, instead of mandatory measures, it 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: plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food service ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

We will be providing more details about the VMP in the coming months, so stay tuned. In the interim, we want to encourage residents and businesses to do their part to reduce single-use items now. If you are ordering or serving food or drinks for takeout, say “no thanks” or ask your customers first if they want single-use items wherever possible. When ordering online, opt out of single-use items like eating utensils. Think ahead and bring food storage containers when dining out in case you have leftovers. Visit the City’s Waste Reduction site for more tips on ways to reduce your waste.

In the first quarter of 2022, Solid Waste Management Services will report back to City Council with an update and action plan that includes:

  • any new considerations of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • any further implementation details and potential alignment with federal government’s proposed approach to ban or restrict single-use plastic items;
  • implementation timeline and proposed approach for any recommended additions or mandatory measures; and
  • a review of options to incentivize businesses to reduce single-use and takeaway items.

More information about the City’s Single-Use and Takeaway Item Reduction Strategy can be found at www.toronto.ca/single-use.