Double trouble or double trouble? Toronto Reusable Cup Regulations

Carrying around a reusable cup to help reduce waste generally seems like a worthwhile habit. But recently it seemed a bit pointless to me and other customers at some Toronto fast food establishments.

It’s been a month since the City of Toronto’s Single-Use and Takeout Items Bylaw came into effect, requiring all restaurants to accept reusable items provided by customers. However, during a recent coffee-buying binge, I discovered that the reality on the ground does not always match the expectations set by this by lawwhich aims to reduce single-use and takeaway items and encourage people to use their own reusable items.

Take, for example, Tim Hortons, Canada’s ubiquitous cafe and restaurant chain. They don’t mind filling your reusable cup. But in some places, they make your drink in a standard single-use cup, pour it into your travel mug, and throw away the disposable cup. Seeing this left me a little discouraged and frustrated.

I first heard this was happening from environmental advocates two weeks after the statute went into effect on March 1. I decided to investigate by visiting a few McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Tim Hortons locations, armed with my reusable cup.

Starting with Tim Hortons, out of five places I visited, three made my drink in a single-use cup and threw it in the trash after pouring the coffee into my reusable cup.

Canadian National Observer He contacted Tim Hortons several times by email for a response, but did not receive comment in time for publication.

At the fourth location, I couldn’t see clearly enough to tell. And at the fifth location, the bartender used my reusable cup to make my drink. However, despite ordering a small coffee, it seemed like I received a medium drink because the waiter had no way to measure the size without using a disposable cup.

My experience at Starbucks was different. The Starbucks staff prepared my drink in my reusable cup, although it took a little longer. The restaurant has a sign at the counter indicating it accepts reusable cups for customers as required by city ordinance, and offers a 10-cent discount if customers bring their own reusable cups.

My stops at some McDonald’s indicated that they are among the most prepared to accept reusable cups. They have a sign at the counter stating that they accept reusable products for customers as required by city charter and offer a 10-cent discount for customers who bring their own cups. The restaurant prepares drinks in its own large reusable glass with markings for drink measurements. When I ordered a small coffee, the staff prepared the drink in their reusable cup and then poured it into mine.

Carrying around a reusable cup to help reduce waste generally seems like a worthwhile habit. But recently it seemed a bit pointless to me and other customers at some Toronto fast food establishments. #TorontoSingleUseBylaw #ReusableMug #TimHortons

As it was the month of Ramadan and I was fasting, I did not eat or drink during the day. I had my thermos where I kept coffee from the three fast food establishments: a small double from Tim Hortons, a medium cappuccino from Starbucks, and a small double from McDonald’s. It was like a custom made coffee blend and I drank it later after iftar. It tasted good and the aroma reminded me of all three brands, with Starbucks being a little stronger because it was a cappuccino.

When I later spoke to zero waste advocates, they were disappointed that in some places the spirit of the statute was not being followed.

“It’s sad to hear that some big chains and fast food restaurants aren’t quite on board with this and are wasting disposable cups that no one wants,” said Emily Alfred, waste campaigner at Toronto Environmental Alliance. “It doesn’t really make sense to do it in a disposable cup. “It’s a waste of money for them.”

According to Alfred, the solution lies in simple but effective practices that have already been adopted by many smaller businesses: preparing drinks in a cup or jug ​​and pouring them into the customer’s cup. “It’s not complex and many small businesses already do it. Some big chains have done it too.”

The city’s single-use ordinance is a really important first step in eliminating single-use items, Alfred said. Serving people in their own cups is an easy way for restaurants to save money and something most already do, he added.

“This is a good reminder that regulations matter. While most small businesses were already doing this, the big chains were really dragging their feet and many are also actively lobbying… the city and other governments to curb regulations like this.”

The city’s bylaw only directs restaurants to accept a reusable cup provided by a customer when purchasing a hot or cold beverage, Angela Doyle, solid waste policy and planning manager for the City of Toronto, said in a mailed statement. electronic. There is nothing in the regulation that prohibits restaurants from using disposable cups when preparing drinks for customers.. It is the responsibility of each retail establishment to determine the most effective way to implement the statute’s requirements, Doyle explained.

“It’s really discouraging,” said Quentin de Becker, a member of Scarborough Zero Waste, which has long advocated for mandatory policies by the city. “But what’s important to note is that it really varies from one Tim Hortons to another. In some rare stores, the staff can do it, but in other stores they can’t.”

De Becker says that most single-use waste is not caused solely by individuals, but rather by big brands like Tim Hortons and Starbucks, as well as certain industries like construction companies. While individuals certainly need to change their behavior by using reusable items, it is equally important for larger corporations and the city to step up and do their part, he said.

Alfred also advocates for regulations requiring the provision of reusable plates for dine-in orders.

“This bring-your-own-cups law is just the beginning and only addresses a small part of the problem; we need to go much further,” Alfred said. “What we want to see are rules requiring restaurants to offer real reusable plates for dining. “That would have a much bigger impact and is something we know is already working elsewhere.”

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