VOTE: Should there be a tax on single-use containers?

(Photo by: Photofusion/Carole Evans/UIG via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Toronto city council said they weren’t ruling out fees as a strategy to reduce the amount of waste that go into the city’s landfills.

“Single-use containers” refer to plastic-lined takeaway containers that are typically used to serve hot drinks or take-out food. The specific kind of lining often cannot be recycled and go straight into the garbage.  While the lid of your coffee cup might be recyclable, the rest of the container needs to be thrown out.

The city says that single-family homes create more than a thousand tonnes of paper cup waste a year. Single-use cups are also a top “blue bin offenders”, meaning they get mistakenly put in recycling. 

According to the city’s website, other “blue bin offenders” include black plastic, VHS tapes, chains, hoses, electrical cords and clothing. They recommend ensuring food is removed from one-use containers before you put them in your blue bin, and to place items in loose, not bagged.

More public consultations are set to be held later this year on how to reduce garbage in Toronto’s landfills, and taxing these kinds of mixed-plastic containers is an option they say they are considering. The first round of discussions with the public on the tax were held last October.

If a ban or a tax is implemented, it wouldn’t be the first time the city went after plastic use. Between 2009 and 2012, a five cent plastic bag tax was put in place, leading to a 53 per cent drop in use of the bags.

Toronto is hardly the only city considering such measures. The city of Vancouver is also in the midst of a multi-year process to assess how best to combat the waste created by single-use containers. Local officials are considering imposing restrictions on the materials used in single-use containers, or a fee on the use of containers and an eventual on-site recycling plan by businesses, to be imposed by 2025.

Do you think a tax on single-use containers would help to reduce waste in landfills, or do you think it might disproportionately harm businesses?