VANCOUVER, Canada – Vancouver is pushing ahead with a plan to shift away from coffee cups and other single-use items cluttering up trash cans.
City council voted unanimously Tuesday to support public consultations on how to reduce disposable cups, foam takeout containers and plastic bags – with the result being a potential outright ban on items.
It means through the summer, city staff will speak to residents and businesses on how to best execute a plan.
“What we’re trying to do is find out what we can do with businesses, with the public, that can make it a little easier for them to select an alternative that is different than what they use now — something with less long-term impact, less litter impact in the future,” said Albert Shamess of the City of Vancouver.
Possible new regulations could include deposits on single-use items, mandatory in-store recycling by businesses that sell them – or an outright ban.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said a made-in-Vancouver solution to the cup conundrum would take the city’s “environmental leadership to the next level.”
“I encourage every Vancouverite to have their say in how we can reduce waste from single use items,” he said.
The city will also partner with Vancouver Coastal Health on a pilot project where restaurants and retailers can fill orders in reusable containers brought by customers.
The project is modelled on similar projects that exist in New York City, Portland and San Francisco.
Vancouver says the amount of disposable items trashed each week is staggering, including:
- 6 million coffee cups
- 2 million shopping bags
A recently released staff report says that disposable cups, lids and sleeves make up 22 per cent of large litter items and are among the most commonly littered items on city streets.
Those cups make up 50 per cent of the volume of waste in street litter cans, and cost $2.5 million annually to collect from streets, sidewalks and litter bins, the report says.
City staff has been researching ways to reduce disposable items since last February.
The public consultations this summer will culminate in a public input Talk Vancouver survey in September.
The cost of the public consultations and reports will be funded through the City of Vancouver’s solid waste operating budget.
Vancouver has a long-term goal of going zero waste through its Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.