Guelph city council moves up start of single-use plastics ban

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Many of the common and problematic single-use plastics could be eliminated in Guelph sooner than originally suggested.

City staff recommended a ban of most single-use items as of March 1, 2023, such as plastic shopping bags, including non-certified compostable bags and biodegradable bags, along with styrofoam cups and takeout containers.

Read more: Guelph could ban many single-use plastics by March 2023

But during Monday’s committee of the whole meeting at city hall, Mayor Cam Guthrie introduced a motion to move up that date to Jan. 1, 2023.

“Staff said we could implement this in six months, they said they wanted to give it a year. I’m a ‘meet in the middle’ type of guy. Why don’t we just make it Jan. 1?” Guthrie said.

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“We have been talking about this since 2018. I think we are ready to move and I personally think the community is ready to move as well.”

The city’s general manager of environmental services Jennifer Rose said the city had the resources in place to make Jan. 1 work and many businesses that were contacted indicated that six months was a reasonable timeframe for them.

Guthrie’s motion passed unanimously.

The ban would also see plastic straws eliminated for the most part but available for accessibility purposes for those who need them and exempt in care settings such as hospitals.

Certified compostable bags would also be exempt from the ban.

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City council also voted to ask staff to conduct more engagement with residents and businesses, and report back before introducing a fee for reusable bags and disposable cups in March 2024.

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The report recommended a requirement for businesses to charge at least $1 for reusable bags in the first year of the program and then increase the fee after. It also recommended applying a fee of 25 cents for disposable cups.

None of that money would go back to the city, but businesses would be encouraged to use the new funds for environmentally friendly initiatives.

A final vote on the recommendations will be held during a city council meeting on April 25.

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