Cambridge city council puts single-use plastics ban into motion

Tuesday evening, Cambridge council approved an implementation plan to phase out single-use plastics such as straws, stir sticks and cup lids in city-run facilities.

Council passes implementation plan to ban city facilities from buying plastic straws, cups, lids

Cambridge city council has passed an implementation plan to ban single-use plastics that would roll out in three phases. It's set to be fully in place by the end of 2020. (Canadian Press)

Cambridge city council is moving ahead with plans to ban single-use plastics at city facilities. 

At a general committee meeting on Tuesday evening, council unanimously approved an implementation plan to phase out single-use plastics such as straws, stir sticks, disposable plastic cups and lids.

In June, council unanimously passed the ban, but the implementation plan now sets the ban in motion. 

'Public is ready' 

Coun. Pam Wolfe originally introduced the motion. 

She said there's always some resistance when introducing an idea that changes behaviour, but she feels overall the city is already embracing the idea.

"I really think the public is ready," said Wolfe.

"I see my daughter and my grandchildren said 'no plastic toys this Christmas.' I just see a lot of people much more aware of the things that we tend to buy and the things we don't need to use."

The ban's implementation includes three phases, the first starts immediately. 

  • Phase one: City facilities will no longer be purchasing single-use plastics, which Wolfe says has already started happening. Staff will also carry out a waste audit to find out how to accelerate waste diversion.
  • Phase two: Starting in early 2020, city staff will make sure catering services for the city don't use single-use plastics. There will also be changes to the city's procurement documents, adding in green strategies. And there will be a centralized waste management system created from the waste audit. 
  • Phase three: The last piece of the puzzle is all about expansion. By late 2020, staff will look at other wasteful products to phase out, and seek new ways to divert waste, according to Wolfe.

'Don't wait'

Wolfe did tell council she wants the timeline of the three phases to be accelerated.

"My statement is to do things as quickly as possible. Don't wait," said Wolfe.

"I'm urging staff to move forward quickly and I want them to post the policy on our website and also in our lunch room to encourage our staff and the public when they come to City Hall to see that this is something we're trying to achieve."

Wolfe said city staff members did not say the they would move more quickly on the phase out, but believes they're eager to educate staff and the community about using less single-use plastic.

The ban at Cambridge city hall should be in full swing before the Canada-wide single-use plastics ban. Last summer, the federal government announced it would ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.


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