Ditching disposables: Single-use Foodware

Project Background

In response to concerns over increases in plastic pollution and to the federal government’s decision to ban single-use plastic items by 2021, the City of Toronto has focused on reducing plastic waste as part of its Long-Term Waste Management Strategy. The City of Toronto has also approved the Single-Use and Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy – Voluntary Measures Program in May 2021 to reduce the use and disposal of single-use and takeaway items regardless of the material type and the waste stream in which they are currently managed.

In anticipation of policy changes, and to increase sustainability, several restaurant-style businesses within the City of Toronto have considered or implemented programs to reduce their plastic footprint. This includes reducing the use of single-use plastics, which is sometimes facilitated by enabling reusable alternatives.

We are working with Toronto Environmental Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, to identify the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing reusables programs in local businesses within the City of Toronto.

This project aims to:

  1. Assess the level of participation in reducing single-use plastic items in local businesses within the City of Toronto.
  2. Determine the challenges and opportunities that local businesses experience with implementing reusables programs.
  3. Determine the perceptions of consumers around supporting businesses with or without programs that reduce single-use plastic items.


Our report includes the results of a 2021 study on the challenges and opportunities for reducing single-use foodware and switching to reusable options in local food service businesses. Surveys and interviews were conducted with 12 small businesses from across Toronto including sit-down restaurants, quick-service restaurants, cafes and a bakery. Our findings summarize the potential for success in increasing and sustaining the use of reusable takeout options across Toronto to reduce single-use waste and plastic pollution.

The data generated from this project will be used to inform decision-makers as they consider new policies to reduce single-use plastic items.

For more information, please email Rafaela F. Gutierrez

This project is in collaboration with Toronto Environmental Alliance.