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Hamilton politicians back vision of phasing out single-use plastics

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Hamilton’s public works committee has voted to investigate ways that the city can phase out single-use plastics.

Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann brought forward the motion on Monday morning saying it’s council’s responsibility to lead the way in protecting the environment.

It was approved in a vote of 10-0 and now goes before city council for final ratification.

READ MORE: Ontario government proposing ban on single-use plastics

Nann says it’s about protecting nature, addressing pollution and tackling climate change, adding that “we know single-use plastics have a direct impact on human health and absolutely impact the state of the environment around our city.”

She stresses that that includes the city’s water system and swelling landfills, and says the motion is about getting the facts and the science that “will enable our staff to put forward the best possible strategies.”

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Nann’s motion includes a variety of specific measures:

  • Looking at what single-use plastics and polystyrene foam are commonly used in products, and whether there are alternatives available.
  • Developing a city strategy to encourage businesses, city facilities and city events to use some of those alternatives.
  • Looking at how the city can regulate businesses and institutions to use alternatives to plastic, including banning them from city landfills.
  • Looking at how much all of this will cost.

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Joe Hruska, representing the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, has urged councillors not to lose sight of the benefits of plastics as they develop their strategy.

He says the product dramatically reduces food waste, noting that a cucumber wrapped in plastic will last two weeks, while one without it will last four days.

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Hruska also believes the city could improve its 34 per cent waste diversion rate by educating people to recycle better and through upgrades to its recycling facilities.

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He notes, for example, that the technology exists to sort black plastic and says “it should not be going to landfill”; however, the optical sorters at Hamilton’s recycling facility do not see black.