Ontario private member’s bill proposes ban on non-compostable coffee pods

Click to play video: 'Ontario politician calls for ban on non-biodegradable coffee pods'
Ontario politician calls for ban on non-biodegradable coffee pods
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario politician calls for ban on non-biodegradable coffee pods – Nov 7, 2017

An MPP’s call for a province-wide ban on all non-compostable coffee pods could give a jolt to the industry behind the ubiquitous single-use plastic cups, with one manufacturer saying recycling is the better way to tackle the waste.

If passed, the private member’s bill introduced by Progressive Conservative Norm Miller on Wednesday would prohibit the sale of all non-compostable coffee pods by punishment of a fine of up to $5,000. The law would kick in four years after it receives royal assent.

“It’s the best solution for the environment,” the Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP told Kelly Cutrara on AM640 on Thursday.

LISTEN: Norm Miller on the Kelly Cutrara Show on AM640

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While the cups — made by brew machine manufacturers Keurig and Tassimo as well as other companies — rose to prominence years ago for their convenience, the plastic waste associated with them is notorious and has become a major headache for municipalities. Miller said 1.5 billion pods end up in landfills each year in Canada.

Keurig has promised to make all of its pods recyclable in Canada by the end of next year and elsewhere by 2020.

“At Keurig, we are making K-Cup pods recyclable rather than compostable because we believe recyclability is a better option for our consumers at this time,” spokesperson Cynthia Shanks said in an emailed statement to AM640.

The company has conducted testing at recycling facilities in Canada, including in Ontario, that showed an average of 90 per cent of empty K-Cup pods put through the systems are being captured.

WATCH: Ontario-brewed coffee product hopes to address concerns about disposable coffee pods

Click to play video: 'Ontario-brewed coffee product hopes to address concerns about disposable coffee pods'
Ontario-brewed coffee product hopes to address concerns about disposable coffee pods

Miller said that recycling the pods requires multiple steps — separating the grounds and cleaning out the pods – which many people aren’t willing to take.

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“By requiring all of the pods to be compostable it really makes things simpler for industry and for municipalities,” Miller said.

Club Coffee, a Toronto company that roasts for major brands, has developed a certified compostable coffee pod along with researchers from University of Guelph. The product is said to degrade within five weeks.

Compostable pods are not currently accepted in Toronto’s green bin organics program, but will be tested early next year. The city’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee is expected to hear back in February and report on potential financial impacts.

Shanks, the representative for Keurig, said that the company has yet to find a biodegradable material that meets its standards, but the company is monitoring developments in bioplastics and issues surrounding access to municipal composting in Canada and could offer compostable pods in the future.

She noted that as of right now, far more municipalities accept the type of plastic in question (#5) than have access to facilities capable of breaking down the organic matter.

“Most compostable products currently in the marketplace require sophisticated municipal or industrial facilities which are not common across Canada and don’t degrade in home settings,” Shanks said.

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In Toronto, a company called GoJava offers coffee pod delivery and pickup for private recycling, addressing the gap in the municipal system.

Eugene Ace, GoJava’s president, said even though it would change aspects of the business, he would support a push from government to tackle the waste associated with coffee pods.

“I think it made sense to put the onus on the manufacturer,” to find a solution, he told AM640. However, he said, he would favour a bill that says the pods must be recyclable or compostable.

The bill is scheduled for debate on Nov. 23.

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