CRFA: Toronto passing buck on recycling
By CANADIAN RESTAURANT
Nov. 13, 2008, TORONTO – A proposed ban on coffee cups and other food packaging could be avoided if the city of Toronto expanded its blue box program, says the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association (CRFA). Other municipalities currently recycle the coffee cups that Toronto officials want to ban by Dec. 31, 2009.
The recommendations to ban the use of disposable drink cups that aren’t accepted by the Toronto blue box program and to impose a mandatory discount for customers using refillable mugs were included in a staff report released today by the city.
“The report implies that certain packaging is not recyclable. What it should say is that certain packaging is not being recycled by this city. Other cities recycle it, but not Toronto,” says CRFA Ontario vice president Stephanie Jones.
A ban on disposable coffee cups would create an unlevel playing field for Toronto business owners and hurt restaurant operators who are already struggling with rising costs, a decline in tourism, and sluggish consumer demand. They will have little choice but to pass along the cost of more expensive packaging substitutes to their customers.
In addition, the city is proposing a mandatory discount for customers using refillable mugs – another move that will increase the cost of doing business in Toronto.
“A mandatory discount is a tax on business, plain and simple,” Jones says. “It’s a cost imposed by the city that comes directly off the bottom line for business owners.
“Coffee cups are less than 1 per cent of the city’s waste diversion target of 10,000 tonnes. Bans and hidden taxes are a high price to pay for very little return in terms of benefit to the environment. Through an expanded blue box program the city could well exceed its waste diversion goals without punishing business owners and customers.”
Many restaurants voluntarily offer a discount to customers who bring in their own refillable mugs, and one restaurant chain recently expanded its in-house recycling program to several Toronto locations to demonstrate the cups can be recycled. Rather than a “one-size-fits-all” mandatory approach, these measures have been designed to meet customer demand within particular business models.