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The safety of reusables

Health and safety are important to the Reduces Community, and we want everyone to practice safe habits when living zero waste. However, prioritizing our safety today is meaningless if we aren't prioritizing a healthy future, too. While the Covid-19 pandemic has increased concerns about contact and germ transmission, we know that we can be package free and safe at the same time, and are ever grateful for the businesses that have continued to allow BYO during this time.

​See below for the policies of Toronto and Ottawa Public Health agencies that allow for BYO and reusables, and global and Canadian health expert statements about the safety and benefits of reusables.

Toronto Public Health reusables policy

Toronto Public Health states that there is no rule prohibiting reusable takeout containers in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation. Every business is allowed to make its own decision on the acceptance of BYO habits.

We have found that some businesses do not want to accept BYO containers because they are afraid of liability if someone gets sick from their own container, while others genuinely believe it is against the rules. If a business believes it is against the rules, direct them to TPH's Reusable Food Containers Policy.

Ottawa Public Health guidance for reusables

Ottawa Public Health created these food safety tips to help you avoid the risk of food-related illness while you are living your zero-waste lifestyle.

BC Ministry of Health guidance

Reduces group BYO Vancouver incorporated BC Ministry of Health Protocols to create these 3 useful handouts to accomplish 2 important goals: 

  • To show businesses how to safely serve food in customer supplied reusable containers

  • To update businesses on the latest BC Ministry of Health policy regarding safe handling of reusable personal containers.

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Safety of reusables during Covid-19


Health Expert Statement Addressing Safety of Reusables and COVID-19

"Reuse and refill systems are an essential part of addressing the plastic pollution crisis and moving away from a fossil fuel-based economy. They can create jobs and help build local economies. The COVID-19 global pandemic has triggered a discussion of how to ensure the safety of reusable systems in a public health crisis. Based on the best available science and guidance from public health professionals, it is clear that reusable systems can be used safely by employing basic hygiene."


Reusables are doable report

The pandemic cannot be an excuse to move back to an era of widespread disposables, as our environment and the world’s most vulnerable communities will suffer most. This report reminds us to trust science and public health recommendations, and details the imperative that reuse and refill systems are implemented that both protect our environment and alleviate any worker and customer concerns.


The safety of reuse during the Covid-19 pandemic

Answers to the 7 most frequently asked questions about the safety of reusable products from Upstream Solutions. Upstream is a public-interest, non-profit organization that creates and accelerates real-world practical solutions to plastic pollution and today’s throw-away culture.

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Canadian doctors applaud plastics ban in throne speech; concerned about rapid rise in disposable plastic items due to COVID-19

On September 24, 2020, Doctors from CAPE released a statement detailing their concerns about the long-term health and environmental consequences of  disposables.


"Common sense hygiene makes reusable options the safe choice they have always been. [...] While providing limited prevention of viral spread, single-use plastics cause substantial harm to the many interconnected systems that enable planetary health."

"Along with the COVID crisis, we continue to experience the plastics crisis, climate crisis and extinction crisis. We can't neglect the long-term just because the COVID crisis is the most immediately pressing. With no evidence of the utility of single-use plastics in mitigating Covid transmission, we must continue to push efforts to limit plastics from entering the biosphere, and impacting our health."

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