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RFD- 4196 Bylaws   Item #   10. a.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 01/25/2021  
Title:    C-1109-20 - Single-use Items Reduction Bylaw - First Reading - Van Gaal
Presenter: Caitlin Van Gaal
Department: Planning & Infrastructure  
Strategic Vision Element: Where People Choose to Live - A dynamic city with an exceptional quality of life Related Goal: Citizens consistently express high levels of satisfaction with municipal services.

Information
Request for Decision Summary
First reading of C-1109-20 - Single-use Items Reduction Bylaw is being brought forward for Council's consideration.  This Bylaw is a result of the recommendations from the Single-use Items Reduction Strategy.  This Bylaw has been developed with input from the public, subject matter experts and regional partners and serves as a means to reduce the amount of single-use items waste in Spruce Grove.
Proposed Motion
 
That first reading be given to Bylaw C-1109-20 - Single-use Items Reduction Bylaw.
Background/Analysis
On June 18, 2018, City Administration brought forward to the Committee of the Whole (COW) several proposed waste program changes to address the stagnation in waste diversion from the City’s residential waste collection program. One of the proposed waste program changes was to look at implementing a city-wide plastic retail bag and polystyrene serving tray ban. At the time, Council requested the inclusion of plastic straws into this initiative. Administration was instructed during the COW meeting to put this diversion strategy forward as a Corporate Plan Initiative for approval.
 
During the 2019 Corporate Planning process the Single-use Items Reduction
Bylaw initiative ranked above the line and was included in the 2019 Corporate Plan.
 
During the first three quarters of 2019, Administration undertook a series of public engagement events to help support and develop the Single-use Items Reduction Strategy. The public engagement results were presented during the COW meeting on November 18, 2019.
 
The Strategy was developed based on the results of regional interviews, nationwide research and public engagement. The Strategy was presented to Council on November 25, 2019. The main recommendations from the Strategy are:
  1. Develop a Single-use Item Reduction Bylaw applicable to all business licence holders within Spruce Grove. Following the approval of the bylaw, a transitionary period (1–1.5 years) will occur allowing businesses time to use up old stock and adequately source an alternative. The Bylaw will focus on:
    • Banning plastic, bio-plastic and biodegradable retail bags, with a fee on paper and reusable bags
    • Banning polystyrene take-out containers and cups
    • Banning plastic straws, with exemptions for residents with accessibility requirements
  2. Explore future reduction and management of disposable cups, utensils and take-out containers
  3. Champion for the introduction of an Extended Producer Responsibility program in partnership with other municipalities across Alberta
  4. Explore the possibility of offering a commercial organics collection program to help capture compostable single-use items and food waste
  5. Continue to educate and inform residents on responsible purchasing habits to reduce the amount of waste produced from the home
  6. Lead by example at all City run events (external and internal). The City should work to be leaders in waste reduction, specifically limiting the use of single-use items
 
During the November 25, 2019 Council meeting, the strategy was received as information and Administration was directed to proceed with implementing a complete ban on the distribution of retail plastic bags, plastic straws, and polystyrene takeout containers/cups from retail and food establishments.
 
In May 2020, the City's Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) decided to delay bringing the Bylaw forward to the COW meeting from June to October as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  At the September 1, 2020 CLT meeting it was decided to further delay bringing the Bylaw forward to Council to allow businesses time to adequately adapt to the changes to their businesses as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Administration then reached out to a few of the impacted businesses to determine a feasible timeline for the introduction of the Bylaw.  The results of the additional engagement were presented to CLT on September 29, 2020 where it was decided to bring forward the proposed Single-use Items Reduction Bylaw to COW in January of 2021.

Since the September 29, 2020 CLT meeting the Federal Government has announced a plastics pollution strategy which includes a ban on six items, three of which are addressed through the City’s proposed bylaw (in bold):
  • Plastic checkout bags
  • Plastic straws
  • Food packaging and service ware made of problematic plastics
  • Plastic stir sticks
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Plastic 6 pack rings
 
In discussion with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) on October 23, 2020 it was believed by ECCC staff that the federal ban will not realistically come into effect until 2023 and even then may still require a 6 month+ transition period for businesses to comply with the regulation.  
 
Considering this new information, Administration is recommending moving forward with the proposed Bylaw for the following reasons:
  • Waiting for the implementation of the Federal program will only delay the removal of these problematic materials for our waste stream by up to 1.5 – 2 years. This will result in unnecessary waste being sent to landfill or disposed of as litter.
  • The City’s proposed Bylaw is complementary to the Federal program.  The approach to checkout bags, straws and polystyrene serving ware is consistent with the Federal approach.  This could be seen as an early phase-in of those three items in advance of the full Federal program.
  • The Federal program as it stands right now does not regulate/manage the alternatives to these plastic items.  This may result in the problem transitioning to another product.  The City’s Bylaw addresses alternatives by ensuring there is a fee on paper and reusable bags and that there are accessibility straws made available.
  • The Federal program, given the extended timeline, may not withstand any substantial government changes/elections.
The contents of this Bylaw were developed in consultation and consideration of the regional direction as well as other Bylaws or Acts that have been successfully implemented across Canada.   The list of included items, exceptions and fees for alternatives and fines are consistent with the recommendations of the Retail Council of Canada, the Plastic Bag Reduction Act of Prince Edward Island (PEI) and the City of Vancouver's approach to plastic straws and polystyrene foam reduction. 

The PEI Plastic Bag Reduction Act has been held up as the gold standard for its reduction approach by the Retail Council of Canada.   Extensive engagement went into developing the exceptions and fee structure for the Act and the Retail Council of Canada is recommending a similar approach be taken by all levels of government to ensure consistency for retailers across Canada.

The City of Vancouver is one for the first regions in Canada to adopt a reduction strategy for plastic straws and polystyrene. Vancouver's approach to reduction for these two items has been incorporated into this Bylaw to ensure consistency for retailers where possible.

On January 18, 2021 the proposed C-1109-20 Single-use Items Reduction Bylaw was shared with the Committee of the Whole for discussion and consideration.
Options/Alternatives
This item is for first reading only.  Council may choose not to give consideration to this bylaw by defeating the motion for first reading.
Consultation/Engagement
This Bylaw was written based off of the engagement that took place during the development of the Strategy.

While the Strategy was being developed in 2019, City Administration engaged with industry experts, regional partners, Spruce Grove residents and business owners. This included:
  1. Industry Experts and Regional Partner Engagement:
  • Meetings with municipalities within the Edmonton Metro Region
  • Workshop hosted by the Recycling Council of Alberta
  • Joint Edmonton - Calgary region meeting on waste
  • Interviews with the Town of Devon and the Town of Wetaskiwin
  • Interview with Waste Free Edmonton
  • Interview with Environment and Climate Change Canada
  1. Public Engagement:
  • Workshop with businesses
  • Phone interviews with businesses
  • Online survey for businesses
  • Online survey for residents
  • Intercept survey for residents
 
The public was made aware of the opportunities to provide feedback through two letters sent to businesses about the workshop and the online survey. The City also sent out a City wide mail-out that asked residents to complete an online survey.
 
After compiling the data from the Strategy and developing the Bylaw, the following additional consultation was completed:
  • Review of Prince Edward Island Bag Ban Act
  • Review of City of Vancouver’s bag, polystyrene and straw bans
  • Meeting with the Retail Council of Canada
  • Bylaw review to ensure consistency with the Edmonton Metro Region Waste Advisory Committee – Technical Committee
  • Interview with City of Edmonton
  • Interview with Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Participation in a series of public engagement sessions for the Federal plastics reduction program
  • Internal Bylaw review by:
    • Corporate Communications
    • Economic and Business Development
    • Cultural Services
    • Planning and Development
    • FCSS and Social Planning
    • Enforcement Services
    • City Clerk’s Office
  • Legal review by Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP
 
Additional engagement regarding the rollout timeline of the Bylaw took place between September 7 and 18, 2020.  Administration reached out to 10 locally owned businesses and was able to conduct interviews with five of the businesses.  The major themes that arose from these interviews were:
  • Most businesses have already started their transition in anticipation of this Bylaw, and at the desire of their younger staff members
  • Most understand the importance of this type of Bylaw and are willing to participate, but understand the struggle with timing as COVID-19 has the attention of the media
  • Restaurants have noticed an increase in take-out vs. dine-in service, and would need time to properly transition away from items addressed in the Bylaw
  • Most businesses would like to see a 10 -12 month transition period
  • Recommend waiting until January to introduce to allow people to settle into school and get through the holiday season
Implementation/Communication
As a result of the engagement with the business community the following implementation timeline is being proposed:
  • January 18, 2021 – Introduced Bylaw at COW meeting
  • January 25, 2021 – 1st Reading
  • February 8, 2021 – 2nd Reading
  • February 22, 2021 – 3rd Reading
  • February 22 – December 31, 2021 – Transition Period
  • January 1, 2022 – Bylaw in effect
Administration also engaged Jackie Sargent Communications who developed a communication plan to help inform and create buy-in within the business community and the general public on the Bylaw. The communication plan will be rolled out in stages from first reading until successful implementation of the Bylaw.
Impacts
The potential approval of this Bylaw will ideally result in less waste being sent to landfill and a shift in the way consumers purchase goods in Spruce Grove. The intent is that through this Bylaw, we will not only reduce the number of single-use items being distributed within the City, but that greater awareness will be brought to the issue and residents will begin to adopt these practices in other aspects of their lives. Implementing these changes will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the City's impact on the environment.

This Bylaw as it is proposed will serve as an early phase in to what is being proposed in the Federal plastics pollution program, resulting in less waste being sent to landfill or disposed of as litter over that time period.  The City's Bylaw also addresses some of the alternatives to the items that will be banned Federally.  Having a Bylaw in place that addresses the alternatives ensures that the problem is not transferred from one problem product to another.  The implementation of a fee for paper and reusable bags is an example of managing the alternatives to plastic checkout bags.
 
There was some opposition to this Bylaw during the public engagement process, although this viewpoint was in the minority, there may be additional efforts required to support and speak with these individuals throughout the transition.  The roll out of this Bylaw may also result in an increase in demand from businesses for curbside organics collection. This is listed as a priority in the Strategy that should be looked at moving forward.
Attachments
Proposed C-1109-20-Single-Use Items Reduction Bylaw

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