Guelph set to further reduce single-use items

Guelph, Ont., June 5, 2024 – Last night, City Council gave preliminary approval to three recommendations for Phase 2 of the City of Guelph’s Single-Use Items Reduction Strategy as part of the Solid Waste Management Master Plan (SWMMP).

After engaging with the residents and businesses, recommendations for Phase 2 were revised to focus on measures that will encourage sustainable behaviour changes by residents and procedural changes for businesses, which will reduce the amount of single-use item waste generated each day.

“Having businesses accept a customer’s reusable drink cup and an ‘ask first’ approach on single-use items is an example of how policy can reflect community interest, support behaviour change and further the development of a circular economy,” says Heather Connell, technical services manager for Solid Waste Resources.

The recommendations

In February, food service businesses were surveyed about their waste reduction practices and support for waste reduction of single-use items, in addition to engaging with the community. Based on the feedback and survey results, City staff recommended three items to Council. The proposed recommendations in Phase 2 of the Single-Use Items Reduction Strategy include:

  1. Businesses must accept a customer’s clean reusable drink cup for beverage orders made in-store,
  2. Businesses must only offer single-use accessory food ware items by request and/or at self-serve stations (e.g., beverage cup sleeves and trays, condiments, utensils and stir sticks; straws are exempt), and
  3. Paper shopping bags must contain 40 per cent post-consumer recycled content.

Council passed a motion to approve the phase 2 recommendations and the Single-Use Items By-law (2024) – 20938, with an amendment to include the use of re-usable containers within the bylaw with the same effective date as the Single-Use Items Phase 2 timeline of March 1, 2025.

A fee on disposable beverage cups and reusable shopping bags was initially proposed as part of the Phase 2 recommendations, however, potential fees were set aside to instead implement measures that encourage sustainable practices by residents and businesses. While some feedback indicated support for a fee added to disposable beverage cups and reusable shopping bags, the City will not currently be mandating fees on these items due to the current economic climate.

Next steps

Council will review the proposed amendments to the Single-Use Items bylaw during the Council meeting on June 25. Should the amendment be approved, it will come into effect on March 1, 2025.

City staff will continue to engage with and educate residents and businesses to support understanding and compliance with the Council-approved changes. These recommendations will help Guelph in being a leader in climate action by reducing waste generated in the community and taking ambitious steps to care for the environment.


Media contacts

Katy Boose, Communications Officer
Corporate Services, Strategic Communications and Community Engagement
City of Guelph
[email protected] 

Heather Connell, Technical Services Manager
Solid Waste Resources, Environmental Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2082
[email protected]