York Region is seeking feedback on single-use plastics to plan for how it will address that waste in the future.
A survey asking people about their attitudes and usage of a variety single-use plastics. York will use the information to develop a voluntary strategy, as part of a master plan, to reduce single-use plastics in the region.
York’s manager of sustainable waste management Lindsay Milne said the region wanted to get a sense of behaviours and attitudes toward single-use items and alternatives.
“We’re looking at communication and engagement to promote reduction of single-use items,” Milne said.
Governments across Canada are already taking action on those items, with the federal government planning to ban six of them, including shopping bags and cutlery, by the end of the year. The provincial government is also transitioning to a producer-driven recycling model by 2025.
York Region has its own Integrated Waste Management Master Plan seeking to reduce the amount of waste generated in York Region. Milne said the region is focusing on voluntary initiatives versus bylaws or enforcement to discourage single-use plastics.
“We had looked and explored bans and explored bylaws. They can be quite intensive,” Milne said. “It’s better and more effective coming from a different level of government, like the federal government.”
York’s plan shows the cost for waste diversion has risen from $129,000 to $494,000 per percentage point increase between 2005 and 2018. But the region hopes to save $40 million between now and 2031 by reducing waste.
Milne said their approach is complimentary toward what upper-level governments are doing.
“By encouraging residents to use more reusable models, they’re already relinquishing that dependence. When a ban takes effect, they’re better set up to adjust,” Milne said. “We anticipated these regulations and policies to come out. We knew that we wanted to do something more supportive.”
Newmarket opted July 1 to ban single-use plastics at municipal facilities at events, no longer providing them for staff or patrons. York Region is not yet doing that, but Milne said it is up for consideration.
“We love that Newmarket is implementing this,” Milne said. “We definitely support this and are looking at those positions as well.”
Even with the producers taking over recycling by 2025, Milne said municipalities have a role to play in waste reduction.
“The role just may look a little bit different,” Milne said. “We have a big role to help make those connections in our communities and look for those reductions and reuse options.”
The survey runs until July 30, with a chance to win one of five $100 gift cards available for participants. The survey is available on the York Region website.