Kitchener-Waterloo

Flushable wipes and single-use plastics: Kitchener council to hear 2 climate motions Monday

Kitchener councillors will hear two motions aimed at eliminating or diverting waste from area landfills and waterways on Monday.

City Coun. Bill Ioannidis says motions are extension of city-declared climate emergency

Pictured here is sewage overflow, with wipes. The City of Toronto has been running a campaign for two years to deter residents from flushing non-flushable products down their toilets. Now, the City of Kitchener is looking at lobbying the federal government to regulate the wipes. (Submitted/Barry Orr)

Kitchener city council will hear two motions aimed at eliminating or diverting waste from area landfills and waterways on Monday.

Coun. Bill Ioannidis has two motions before council, one suggesting the city lobby the province to implement a bottle recycling fee program. It would be similar to the Beer Store's bottle deposit refund and recycle program.

Ioannidis's motion suggests the city should lobby the premier to create a deposit and return program for single-use plastic bottles as well as aluminum and metal drink containers.

"To have that implemented throughout the province would be something that I think would be very beneficial to help alleviate the issue with single-use plastics," he said.  

He's also bringing forward a motion that would see the city lobby the federal government to review the way it regulates single-use wipes.

Ioannidis says the single-use wipes are marketed as flushable but can cause major issues for city water and waste infrastructure and end up in waterways.

"We're finding through our systems, through our infrastructure, that they're getting into our waterways and they're not deteriorating," he said. "Our systems are designed to have paper, not these flushable wipes."

Earlier this year, Ryerson University released a report finding single-use wipes can't be flushed, even though their labels often suggest they are flushable. All 23 wipes, including personal cleansing and diaper wipes, failed the researcher's tests at their "flushability lab."

Only two of the single-use wipes partially disintegrated, while the other 21 didn't break down at all. 

Both motions are an effort to combat pollution and climate change, Ioannidis said.

"For both of these motions, it's just another continuation of the climate emergency motion I put forward before our break," he said.

The City of Kitchener declared a climate emergency in June.

Council will vote on the motions Monday night. The council meeting begins at 7 p.m.

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