Reducing, more so than recycling, is the focus of a new report from the city of Toronto on how to cut back on retail in-store packaging.
Under the report’s recommendations, more responsibility would fall on the retailer to cut reduce single-use hot drink cups, plastic retail shopping bags and plastic food packaging.
By June 1, 2007, it proposes retailers offer discounts between 10 to 20 cents for purchases made with refillable packaging, such as a travel mug.
The report also recommends banning hot drink cups that aren’t compatible with the city’s recycling program, which is not equipped to separate paper cups from plastic lids. The ban would come into effect on December 31, 2009.
By December 31, 2010, food service retailers in Toronto must develop a reusable or refillable takeout food container, or takeout food service protocol, the report recommends.
It also proposes banning the sale of bottled water at city civic centers by December 31, 2011.
Fines for retailers who don’t adhere to the new municipal regulations could range between $100-$400, the report says.
But forcing retailers to offer discounts to customers who bring in reusable containers could wind up costing the consumer more money, said Cathy Cirko, vice president of the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC), one of several industries that have found flaw with the proposals.
“Retailers would have to subsidize these incentives by raising prices across food items in their stores,” she said.
Cirko says re-usable food containers could also expose consumers to health risks.
“There will be greater risk of food-borne illness as retailers switch to alternate packaging that is not as effective in preventing against food contamination,” she said.
The city released their report on November 4, 2008.
It will go to the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on November 12, 2008.