Edmonton on track to get rid of single-use plastics. Here's how

A plastic fork is seen in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, June 17, 2022. A California proposal would reduce the amount of plastics used for single-use products like eating utensils, food containers , dish soap and shampoo bottles. State Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, made the bill public on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The City of Edmonton is moving ahead on a new bylaw aimed at reducing the number of single-use items, like plastic cutlery and bags, that end up in city landfills and on city streets.

The new single-use bylaw would ban plastic shopping bags and require a mandatory fee for paper or reusable shopping bags. It would also require restaurants and foodservice establishments to use reusable cups for dine-in service and create policies to allow customers to bring their own reusable cups in.

Under the new bylaw, condiments and single use food items like paper straws and stir sticks would also only be available by request.

A document outlining the new bylaw reports that an estimated 450 million single-use items, like takeout containers and disposable cups, are discarded in Edmonton every year - and most end up in landfills and as litter on streets and in green spaces.

Mayor Amerjeet Sohi said that less waste saves money in the long run and it’s time to encourage people to make the switch to more durable items that can be reused.

“I think it’s not just about plastic single use. It’s about all the single-use items that we can avoid using. Because they end up in our environment - in the river valley, in the river - or they end up in the landfill.”

There are some exceptions to the rule. Charities and health-care facilities won’t be subject to the bylaw. Civic events, like city festivals, will also be exempt if holding a valid permit.

The report said any groups or organizations exempt from the bylaw would still need to adhere to the anticipated federal legislation banning single-use plastics.

The public will have the opportunity to offer their thoughts and feedback on the proposed changes at a hearing later this year. The new bylaw is currently slated to come into effect on July 1, 2023.

With files from Jeremy Thompson