About The Project

The City of Calgary wants to understand your views on whether we should create a strategy to reduce waste from single-use items and, if so, what items should be targeted in the strategy.

Single-use items include plastic and paper shopping bags, take-out food and beverage containers, plastic straws, plastic utensils and cups; paper coffee and fountain drink cups; plastic drink lids, coffee stirrers, coffee stoppers; and polystyrene foam cups and containers.

Reducing waste from single-use items would:

  • Reduce the amount of material sent to landfill
  • Reduce contamination of our recycled and composted materials
  • Reduce the amount of these items managed through our public waste collection and litter programs
  • Reduce litter from these items in our environment
  • Support our vision to lead the community towards zero waste

There are many options and consequences to consider to find the best solution for keeping these items out of the landfill.

FAQs

What are single-use items?

These are convenience items used once before being thrown away, and for which alternatives are available. These items include plastic bags, disposable cups, disposable utensils, take-out containers, plastic straws.

Why is waste from single-use items a concern?

Single-use items are convenient but have an impact on our environment as these items often end up as litter or in our landfills, and can take thousands of years to break down.

Could our recycling facilities be changed to process single-use items?

It is very difficult to sort some of these single-use items with existing technology because some of them are too small and lightweight. Also, these items are mostly made of mixed materials which makes them expensive and difficult to separate. Our recycling facilities use a combination of technology and manual labor to sort items. There is no simple fix for addressing these challenging items within our recycling facility.

Why is plastic used to make so many single-use items?

Plastic is inexpensive and easy to manipulate for many uses, so it’s a popular choice for manufacturing a wide variety of things. Plastic also has positive attributes such as prolonging the life of food products with protective barriers against bacteria and water.

What is waste diversion?

Diverting waste from landfills means recycling, composting or reusing items instead of throwing them in the garbage. By reducing the amount and type of materials that end up in landfills, our landfills last longer and natural resources are conserved.

Our goal is to divert 70 per cent of waste from City landfills in all sectors, including residential, businesses and organizations, construction and demolition by 2025.

Will single-use items be banned in Calgary?

At this time, Calgary is considering whether or not to develop programs to reduce single-use items. If approved by Council, The City will work with citizens, businesses and organizations across Calgary to develop programs that fit our local environment. Feedback from citizens, businesses and organizations as well as experience from other regions around the world, will be considered when developing a program for Calgary. There are many challenges as well as options for this issue, so it is important to provide your input and be sure your voice is heard.

More Information

Single-use items are great for convenience but have an impact on our environment as these items often end up in our landfills or litter our land and water and can take thousands of years to break down. It is estimated that disposable (single-use) items account for about half of the 300 million tons of plastic produced around the world each year. Further, only 10 – 13 percent of plastic items are recycled worldwide.

While some of these single-use items are accepted in our recycling programs, they are hard to recycle because:

  • They are often not prepared properly for recycling (i.e. clean and bundled).
  • They are too small and lightweight to be processed properly in our recycling facilities
  • They are mostly made of mixed materials which makes them expensive and very difficult to separate

We use most of these items once and then throw them away, contributing to garbage in our landfills, or litter in our environment.

Some businesses and Calgarians have already taken steps proactively to reduce their use of single-use items, and The City is conducting preliminary investigation into possible strategies for reducing waste from single-use items.

Reducing waste from single-use items would:

  • Reduce the amount of material sent to landfill
  • Reduce contamination of our recycled and composted materials
  • Reduce the amount of these items managed through our public waste collection and litter programs
  • Reduce litter from these items in our environment
  • Support our vision to lead the community towards zero waste

What are other locations doing?

Jurisdictions around the world and in Canada have developed strategies to reduce waste from single-use items. These range from campaigns encouraging consumers to choose products and services made sustainably, to fees and even bans. Vancouver recently passed a single-use items reduction strategy that will be implemented over the next few years, while The City of Victoria recently banned plastic bags. In Alberta, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has had a ban on plastic bags since 2010.

Some countries, like Taiwan and New Zealand, are phasing in full bans on specific items such as plastic straws and cups, and plastic bags. Currently, the United Kingdom requires businesses to charge a fee for plastic bags.

PROVIDE YOUR INPUT

Citizens, businesses and organizations have the opportunity to help chart the way forward. Your feedback will help outline the recommendations for investigating this issue further. We want to understand:

  • Your perceptions of single-use items
  • Your interest level in a single-use items reduction strategy
  • Which items you think are important to include in a single-use items waste reduction strategy

Online engagement will be open until November 13.

We look forward to your feedback!


1. Do you believe that The City of Calgary should take action to reduce garbage from single-use items? Required
You have 255 characters left.
2. Which single-use items do you think The City of Calgary should take action to reduce? Select all that apply.
3. Which single-use items do you use most frequently? Select all that apply.
4. Which single-use items do you think you could live without? Select all that apply

Demographic Questions (optional)

Tell us a bit about yourself. Your responses to these questions are optional and will not be tied to your responses. This information will be used by the project team to understand the value of reducing single-use items according to age, quadrant and connection to industry.

What is your age range?
Which quadrant to you live in?
Do you own, operate or work at a business or organization that utilizes single-use items?

NEXT STEPS

You are invited to provide your input into whether Calgary should explore developing a single-use item waste reduction strategy. Your feedback will be reviewed and included in a What we Heard report which will be shared with the project team for use in their scoping report. A scoping report is a report that outlines an approach for how the work will advance. The scoping report will be presented to the Standing Policy Committee (SPC) on Utilities and Corporate Services in Spring 2019. The What we Heard report will also be shared here in January 2019.