Humber ready for proposed coffee cup ban

5 12 2008

Kara Bertrand
Design Editor, The Daily Planet
Published: September 25, 2008

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Toronto’s solid waste department put forward several proposals to ban or tax coffee cups, take-out food containers and plastic bags, in a move toward diverting 70 per cent of its landfill waste by 2010.

Humber College’s food services have moved to biodegradable cups, plates and cutlery at the beginning of this school year.

“It’s obviously an issue that the government wants to undertake but it doesn’t really affect us at the moment,” said Kim Mantovani, director of food services.

She said Humber began a gradual change in January 2008 whereby all Chartwells-run locations would use biodegradable cups, plates and cutlery.

The college has now changed 100 per cent to use only biodegradable materials at the start of this school year. For instance, Mantovani said, the cutlery is made out of corn. She said they would begin to liaise with Harvey’s and Williams Coffee in University of Guelph-Humber further down the line to shift this process to these chains as well.

Eliminating non-biodegradable materials from Toronto’s landfill system was included in the Target 70 Strategy outlined in June 2007, said Vincent Sferrezza, director of policy and planning of Toronto’s solid waste department.

“This particular component is part of our strategy whereby looking at reducing in-store packaging, we would reduce about 10,000 tonnes of waste that would enter into our system and it would contribute to getting us to 70 per cent,” he said.

According to Toronto’s website, over 367,000 metric tonnes of residential waste was diverted from landfill in 2007, which amounts to 42 per cent of all waste.

Still, a city audit in 2007 found fast-food containers in 77 per cent of garbage bins in Toronto. The report stated that in 260 of the 480 bins, Tim Horton’s cups and lids were the top waste contributors.

David Griffin, maintenance and operations manager at Humber, was not convinced the city’s proposals were good ideas.

“How is the city helping people get to the point where they can be good stewards of the environment?” he said.

Griffin said high-rise buildings and rental real estate add to the garbage problem, as residents cannot recycle in the same way as house dwellers.

“Most only have one chute per floor and that’s for garbage,” he said.

If the proposals don’t take effect in Toronto, Sferrezza said recycling programs would always be collecting material that takes up space in the landfill sites.

“But we’re looking at reducing the materials before we even have to manage it,” he said.

In the event of a total ban, Sferrezza offered options for retailers and consumers. Reusable bags and mugs are already available at grocery stores and coffee shops and he said this would become the norm in the event of a complete ban.

“At Tim Horton’s, for instance, if you go there [with a reusable mug] they charge you 10 cents less,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know that and it makes a difference. Some of the options that exist are good and we’re trying to promote and encourage those.”

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