Council to consider report on allowing Styrofoam takeout containers ahead of federal plan to ban single-use plastics

City Council will look at a recommendation at Monday’s executive committee meeting to allow Styrofoam takeout containers in Prince Albert ahead of the Government of Canada’s plan to prohibit single-use plastics later this year.

At an earlier meeting in February, City Council passed a motion requesting a report on the feasibility and benefits of a ban on Styrofoam takeout containers similar to the City of Vancouver’s. 

Effective January 1, 2020, the City of Vancouver banned food venders from serving prepared food and beverages in foam cups and foam takeout containers. This ban includes cups, plates, bowls, trays, cartons and hinged containers used for food that is not intended for further cooking.

Later in 2020, the Federal Government initiated an analysis to determine which items should be included in their proposed plastic ban. Checkout bags, cutlery, styrofoam containers, ring carriers, stir sticks, and straws were all identified as single-use plastic items that the Government is moving to prohibit. 

The Government of Canada published an order in May of 2021 to add “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. This addition enables the creation of regulations to ban plastics. 

A Draft Plastic Prohibition Regulation proposing to ban the same six single-use plastic items identified in their earlier analysis was published in December of 2021, with consultations completed in March of this year. 

The Federal Government has stated that it is their intent to finalize these regulations and bring the bans into force as early as late 2022. 

In recent years, many restaurants and businesses have already started transitioning away from plastic and Styrofoam containers on their own. Many readily available substitutes for single-use foodservice ware have been identified such as paper, molded fiber, aluminum or recyclable plastics. 

The total reduction of waste expected from the ban on foodservice ware containing problematic plastic is identified at 3,676 tonnes nationally in the first year. Locally, this potential decrease would equate to approximately 0.009 per cent of material landilled based upon the population of Prince Albert.

Due to the short time until the new Federal regulations are expected to be in place and the fact that many businesses are already transitioning away from plastics on their own, it has been recommended that the City of Prince Albert not develop a stand-alone bylaw to ban Styrofoam takeout containers. 

“Relying on the new Federal regulation will ensure consistency across the country and result in financial savings for the City of Prince Albert by not having to draft, consult, promote and communicate a new bylaw,” reads the recommendation.