A plan for how to handle Toronto’s throw-away coffee cups is unlikely to emerge by a June deadline, industry representatives on a joint task force said yesterday.

About a million foam and paper cups, most with plastic lids, are pitched out each day by Toronto coffee drinkers — and the city wants to get them out of the garbage.

Councillors found the issue too hot to handle in December, when the works committee came up with a proposal that would ban paper cups with plastic lids and force coffee shops to give customers who bring their own mugs a 20-cent discount.

Instead, council set up a task force with city and industry representatives to find a solution by this month. Then it extended the deadline till June.

But following a closed-door task force meeting yesterday at city hall, some members said they doubted they would be able to cobble together a policy by then.

“There’s business and economic issues that have not been studied,” said Joe Hruska of the Environment and Plastics Industry Council. “They’re going to need more time.”

He foresees an “18-month, two-year” process to come up with a solution that embraces not only coffee cups but many other materials, and meshes with evolving provincial policies and directives.

Task force members emerged from the three-hour meeting saying the tone had been positive. But yesterday marked their first look at reports by consultants on changing consumer behaviour, on the ability of paper mills to handle cups and lids, and on how city recycling facilities can deal with throw-away cups.

Working groups will now split off to consider the recommendations in detail.

Still missing is a consensus on how to analyze the economic impact of a coffee-cup policy.

Torontonians throw out about a million foam and paper cups each day.

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