At the November 5 Committee of the Whole, staff brought forward a recommendation to Council for a voluntary ban of Styrofoam and single-use plastics throughout the municipality. Kawartha Lakes alone produces roughly 10 tonnes of Styrofoam waste and more than one third of all plastics collected come from single-use materials.
A resolution brought forward in May requested that staff review what the ban of both materials would mean, what the environmental and economic impacts would be for the community and the support required from all stakeholders. The request also follows announcements made by both provincial and federal levels of government on future potential bans across Canada.
“The importance of acknowledging the environmental impacts that stem from continuing to use and allow these materials is becoming more and more evident as we see recycling continuing to make headlines,” stated Councillor Seymour-Fagan, who brought the original request forward earlier this year. “As a business owner myself, I recognize the importance of making changes and getting everyone on board in order to make this motion a success.”
In order to identify the feasibility of the ban, staff worked with multiple partners to gather information on the use of these materials. In joint with local Chambers of Commerce, an online survey was released to businesses across the municipality to gauge the willingness of participation: 77% of respondents agreed they would consider using alternative materials such as paper bags for packaging, with 66% stating they could implement a change within one year.
“The rationale behind introducing a voluntary ban would give businesses time to phase out these materials and create a plan of action,” stated David Kerr, Manager of Environmental Services for Kawartha Lakes. “Should Provincial and Federal legislation move forward with an enforced ban, the municipality would be in good stance to manage changes required.”
During the meeting, the Kawartha Lakes Environmental Advisory Committee came forward with a presentation stating the importance of taking action on banning these materials. “We are encouraging Council to take leadership, to act now and be part of the solution,” stated Deborah Pearson, a representative with the Committee.
“Thank you to staff for providing the report. It’s instrumental at this time because it’s become a global concern with everyone speaking out about it,” commented Councillor Richardson, who is also a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee. “If it rolls out in a voluntary sense, we can control what’s going on through education and communication to show what we can do as a municipality.”
Along with the voluntary ban, the report also requested Council approve removing Styrofoam from the recycling stream all together, indicating the cost to recycle does not reflect any benefits to the municipality in continuing to accept this material.
If approved, staff also indicated that along with the ban, a public education campaign would need to be created in order to support stakeholders affected and to maximize the communications around actions required. The report was received by all members of Council and will be brought forward for a decision unit at the next Council meeting.