Bill 173, An Act respecting the sale of single-use beverage pods / Projet de loi 173, Loi sur la vente de capsules de boisson à usage unique.
Mr. Norm Miller: I am pleased to rise in the House today to debate Bill 173, the Reducing Waste One Pod at a Time Act. If passed, my private member’s bill would require all single-use coffee pods sold in Ontario to be certified compostable. It is my hope that Bill 173 will make Ontario a global leader in waste reduction while supporting a made-in-Ontario innovation and local businesses.
To begin, I’d like to recognize some important stakeholders who have joined us here today to observe the debate. I want to start with the folks from Muskoka Roastery Coffee, a company in Huntsville that first introduced me to the idea of compostable coffee pods. In the members’ west gallery we have Doug Burns, CEO of Muskoka Roastery; Patricia Snell, co-founder of Muskoka Roastery; and Jordan McKenzie, marketing manager of Muskoka Roastery.
Unfortunately, the dean of the school of agriculture at the University of Guelph was unable to be here today, but I want to recognize Rene Van Acker, who did participate in the news conference that I held on November 1.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Bob Chant, senior vice-president of corporate affairs at Loblaw Companies, who is here because President’s Choice also offers its products in PurPod100 certified compostable coffee pods. Please welcome them.
Additionally, I want to thank legislative counsel, and Bradley Warden in particular, for providing the support necessary to bring this bill into existence. And of course, I want to thank my legislative intern, Kassandra Loewen, who has done an amazing job on this private member’s bill, and my executive assistant, Lesley Daw.
Last month, the Environmental Commissioner said it clearly: “Ontario has a waste problem.” In a year, each Ontarian creates, on average, 1,800 pounds of waste, only 25% of which is recycled. According to the government’s own research, the amount of waste produced by Ontarians is expected to increase by 40% by 2050, requiring the creation of 16 new landfills.
Packaging, mainly made of plastics, constitutes one quarter of the waste produced by Ontarians. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, contributes to pollution and threatens ecosystems, especially when it ends up in our lakes and oceans.
Single-serve coffee pods are a large source of plastic waste. The single-serve coffee industry has grown rapidly. They are currently the number-one-selling household appliance and can be found in 38% of Canadian homes. About 49% of coffee sold in stores is in the single-serve format.
Unfortunately, the packaging used in this popular beverage system contributes significantly to Ontario’s waste problem. Some 1.5 billion coffee pods end up in Canadian landfills every year. Sending coffee grounds to landfill in non-compostable coffee pods not only takes up valuable space, it also contributes to climate change.
Even the inventor of Keurig’s K-Cups is uncomfortable with the amount of post-consumer waste being produced. In an interview in the Atlantic in 2015, John Sylvan admitted he regrets creating the disposal coffee-pod system.
I wish to stress, however, that the problem has to do with packaging, not with the practice of brewing single-serve coffee. In fact, compared to standard drip coffee, single-serve coffee is more efficient and uses less water and less energy.
There are two ways to keep single-serve coffee pods out of landfill: The first is to make single-serve coffee pods recyclable; the second and, in my opinion, superior option is to make them compostable.
While there are some recyclable coffee pods on the market, their usage is not yet widespread and they come with two significant drawbacks. First, recycling coffee pods is not convenient. Consumers need to wait for the hot pod to cool down, remove the welded-on foil lid, dump the coffee grounds in the compost, remove the internal filter and wash the cup. Only then can they place it in recycling. For a product predicated on convenience, it is unlikely that many consumers will take the time to properly recycle the pod. Recyclable coffee pods are most likely to either head straight to the landfill or be recycled incorrectly, becoming a contaminant and driving up costs.