Mississauga remains committed to reducing single-use plastics

Non-biodegradable waste on wood (image source: Retail Council of Canada)

Plastic can take more than 1,000 years, or 100 decades, to decompose and break down. The plastic you throw away today will start to decompose in 3024. Unfortunately, much of this waste ends up in landfills or as litter, causing harm to Mississauga’s environment and wildlife. To help reduce plastic waste, the City has proposed the Reduction of Single-use Items in City Facilities and Operations policy to limit single-use items purchased in all City facilities and operations.

“We’re dedicated to reducing plastic waste at the City,” said Acting Mayor John Kovac. “That’s why this policy is so important. Reducing single-use plastics is not just beneficial for the environment but also crucial for Mississauga’s future. Simple changes like swapping to reusable cutlery, straws and water bottles and making use of compostable bags can have a big impact. We can significantly decrease the amount of plastic waste in landfills, creeks, green spaces and natural habitats. Action is needed today for a better tomorrow.”

What are single-use plastics?

Single-use plastics refer to plastic materials intended for one-time use and are generally discarded after their use. Single-use plastics prioritize convenience over durability and repeated use. Examples of single-use plastic include plastic grocery bags, product packaging, straws, coffee cups and lids, plastic cutlery, fast food containers and plastic sandwich bags.

The Reduction of Single-use Items in Facilities and Operations policy is intended to:

  • Limit the purchase and use of single-use items in City facilities and operations.
  • Educate City staff on environmentally sustainable alternatives to single-use items.
  • Communicate the City’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
  • Identify roles and responsibilities in reducing the purchase and use of single-use items.

“According to the Government of Canada, about three million tonnes of plastic waste is discarded every year, with less than nine percent of it being recycled,” said Jodi Robillos, Commissioner, Community Services. “While single-use plastics are still accessible for purchase in Canada, including things like resealable plastic bags, garbage bags and zip ties, the City is committed to reducing plastic waste and recommending alternatives to plastic products. The City will also continue to educate and promote waste reduction, as well as reduce the use of non-recyclable, single-use plastics in internal operations where feasible.”

The environment and single-use plastics

Plastic waste pollution has a severe impact on the City’s ecosystems. It poses a threat to Mississauga’s wildlife – as many animals find themselves entangled or mistakenly ingesting plastic thinking it’s food. This can lead to animals getting trapped or injured, or even dying due to ingestion. Decomposing plastic can also release toxic chemicals that can harm aquatic life and contaminate water sources including soil, creeks and rivers.

Actions to reduce plastic waste

By making small changes to our day-to-day lives, you can help reduce plastic waste. Here are some easy ways to limit your plastic consumption:

  • Carry reusable bags when shopping.
  • Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles. Try out a water bottle filling station available at all community centres.
  • Use a reusable cutlery set instead of disposable plastic utensils.
  • Choose to buy items with less plastic packaging.
  • Pack lunches and snacks in reusable containers instead of plastic bags.
  • Shop at bulk food stores to reduce packaging waste when possible.
  • Cook at home instead of ordering takeout (takeout food often comes in single-use packaging).
  • Bring coffee or a hot drink from home in a reusable mug.
  • Switch to bar soaps instead of bottled shampoos and body washes.
  • Repurpose old plastic containers and bottles.
  • Recycle items properly.
  • Participate in local city-wide litter clean-up
  • Avoid littering. Throw your waste in the proper waste bin available throughout the city.

These actions along with other actions like reducing your waste, shopping local and eating more plant-based foods can make a positive impact on the environment.

On June 20, 2018, City Council passed Motion 15.4 to request the Federal Government to develop a strategy to reduce plastic pollution. The Federal Government implemented the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations, which came into effect in 2022. Late last year, Canada’s Federal Court overturned the Federal ban on single-use plastics. This court ruling has no impact on the City’s proposed Reduction of Single-use Items in City Facilities and Operations policy.

This policy is an action within the Climate Change Action Plan. Learn more about the City’s Climate Change Action Plan and its progress.

The Reduction of Single-use Items in City Facilities and Operations policy was endorsed by the Environmental Action Committee on November 7, 2023 and will go to Council with final approvals on Wednesday, January 31, 2024.

Learn more about the City’s efforts to manage waste or actions you can take by visiting: ownyourlitter.ca

SOURCE City of Mississauga

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