Turning Setbacks into Solutions: RCA’s Perspective on Bylaw Repeal in Calgary

Clarification Statement – Turning Setbacks into Solutions: RCA’s Perspective on Bylaw Repeal in Calgary

On May 7, 2024, Calgary City Council voted to repeal the Single-Use Items Charter Bylaw. In response to our NewsFlash on this topic last week, the RCA is issuing a statement to ensure clarity. We appreciate the City of Calgary for providing these details.


While some members of Calgary’s City Council expressed an interest in reintroducing a better, stronger, and more frontline-informed bylaw in the near future, no specific direction was given to the Administration to take this action. Therefore, although efforts are not specifically underway to craft a new bylaw, City of Calgary staff see an opportunity to refocus their efforts on public education and outreach regarding waste reduction. City of Calgary staff will continue to support the businesses and organizations that are champions in the area of single-use item reduction and will seek to engage with Calgarians and businesses to co-design future waste reduction actions. Furthermore, they will take this time to learn more from Calgarians and businesses about their perspectives and priorities for next steps.

Turning Setbacks into Solutions: RCA’s Perspective on Bylaw Repeal in Calgary (original Newsflash sent May 9, 2024)

At the Recycling Council of Alberta (RCA), our vision is a waste-free world, and we are committed to promoting, facilitating, and advocating for a Circular Economy in Alberta through waste reduction and resource conservation. The circular economy and waste management landscape are evolving rapidly, and we are dedicated to sharing updates and fostering connections among RCA committees, partners, members, and stakeholders in pursuit of environmental protection through resource conservation, following the 3Rs hierarchy.

Yesterday, the City of Calgary repealed its Single-Use Item Bylaw, marking both a disappointment and a considerable setback for Calgary and its residents. However, amidst this setback, there was a silver lining: Calgary’s City Council expressed a commitment to reintroducing a better, stronger, and more frontline-informed bylaw for adoption in the near future, potentially within a one-year timeframe. This presents an opportunity to reconsider the actions, incentives, fees, and other approaches that will better align with the needs of Calgarians. It’s encouraging to know that while the previous bylaw was scrapped, efforts are underway to craft a new one to replace it. It’s not lost forever. The RCA believes that bylaws are a vital component in the suite of options available to collectively tackle the reduction of single-use items. 

We eagerly anticipate being active participants in the process for an improved outcome and stand ready to lend our support to The City of Calgary in this endeavour. For those interested, our Executive Director, Jennifer Koole, was featured on CBC news yesterday regarding this topic.

As leaders in advocating for waste reduction in Alberta, the RCA is devoted to actively advancing strategies such as single-use item bylaws that have proven effective in changing waste reduction behaviours. We are dedicated to keeping the conversation going on the importance of single-use item reduction strategies for Alberta. The RCA remains open to discussions with City Councillors, stakeholders, and members to advance waste reduction initiatives throughout the province as the process unfolds.

Want to learn about additional measures that municipalities, and citizens can take to reduce single-use items?

On May 6th, the RCA hosted a webinar titled ‘Beyond the Bylaw – Additional measures that municipalities, businesses, and citizens can take to reduce single-use items.’ The recording, as well as downloadable copies of the speaker presentations, are available on our webinar web page. One hundred percent of attendees who completed our event survey reported learning something new and finding the event valuable.

Alison Abbink from the City of Edmonton moderated the webinar. The City of Edmonton’s single-use reduction bylaw (2023) and strategy (2022) aim to reduce the number of items used in Edmonton by 20 percent in just four years. Municipal bylaws are critical pieces of the single-use waste reduction puzzle, and in this webinar, we explore what can be done both within and beyond them!


Sean Stepchuk – Waste Free Edmonton

Waste Free Edmonton is a grassroots, non-profit organization that works to significantly reduce the amount of waste created in Edmonton by stopping it at the source. In 2022, they strongly advocated for the adoption of a comprehensive single-use plastics strategy, including a bylaw with bans or surcharges.

Tanya Pacholok – Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley

The Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley empowers community leadership to address environmental challenges. After running a successful pilot program, “Banff Isn’t Disposable,” they are researching how reusable cup and container programs can be sustained and expanded throughout the Bow Valley. They also coordinate the Green Team – dedicated volunteers who support waste reduction at events, including achieving a 91% diversion rate for the Canmore Folk Music Festival.

John MacInnes – Earthware

Earthware’s vision is to offer superior solutions that eliminate the need to consume millions of single-use containers. Through their reusable container solution for take-out food, they intend to prevent 1,000,000 single-use containers from going into landfills by 2025.