By Kirk Winter

City of Kawartha Lakes Ward Two Councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan has asked the City to consider investigating an outright ban of styrofoam in the CKL.

In a Council Memorandum presented to Council for discussion on May 7, Seymour-Fagan has requested “that staff review the banning of styrofoam from the City of Kawartha Lakes in consultation with the Waste Management Advisory Committee and that staff provide a report to Council by end of Q4 2019 with a summary of the feasibility review for banning the use of styrofoam and/or the effective management of styrofoam as a waste product.”

As her rationale, Seymour-Fagan shared the following data:

  • According to the French Ministry of Ecology more than 14 million tonnes of polystyrene (styrofoam) are produced annually worldwide

  • In Canada, despite ongoing efforts, there are not reliable, consistent or cost-effective processes in place to deal with recycling styrofoam

  • The majority of styrofoam ends up in landfills and waterways

  • It costs Ontario municipalities $1,000 a tonne to manage styrofoam waste

  • Despite the fact that CKL collects styrofoam as part of the recycling stream, the product is stripped out and sent to a landfill in Northumberland

  • Last year, the City incurred costs of $10,000 to have its styrofoam transported, sorted and disposed of

  • With limited landfill space and the inability to effectively recycle this material, the municipality should reconsider its continued usage.

Styrofoam is a ubiquitous material used in food delivery and packaging, home insulation and as inserts in packing to stop products from shifting inside their card board boxes.

If you have bought a major appliance or flat screen television any time lately, remember how much of that rigid white packaging material was included in that box to keep the product safe on its trip from point of manufacture. While more and more manufacturers are moving to cardboard inserts or the latest generation to bubble wrap, styrofoam still appears to be a packing material of choice, particularly in consumer products coming from mainland China.

While Seymour-Fagan’s initial memorandum dealt exclusively with styrofoam, the motion put forward for discussion at Council added single-use plastics into the mix.

Council will revisit this issue when commissioning of a staff report on styrofoam/single-use plastics will be brought to a vote at the next regular meeting on May 21.