A regional approach is being suggested to reduce waste from disposable cups, food containers, and shopping bags in Metro Vancouver.
Paul Henderson, general manager of solid waste services with the Metro Vancouver regional district, believes that this measure can be effective and fair for residents and businesses across the Lower Mainland.
Henderson is asking direction from the Metro Vancouver board for district staff to develop actions on the single-use items that are “best done on a regional level”.
In his report to the zero waste committee that is scheduled to meet Thursday (October 12), Henderson noted that the City of Vancouver is currently developing a strategy to deal with throwaway cups, take-out food containers, and plastic and paper shopping bags.
According to him, Metro Vancouver staff are “seeking direction to identify and develop actions that are more appropriate and efficient to be done at a regional level rather than at the municipal level”.
“A Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy will likely include potential actions that would be best done on a regional level, for reasons on efficiency, consistency, and municipal equity among the residents, retailers and restaurants throughout the region,” Henderson wrote in his report to the committee.
The district manager also noted that waste reduction is a key priority of the region’s Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan (ISWRMP).
“Reducing the use of single use items such as coffee cups and grocery bags is an important opportunity to achieve the waste reduction goals of the ISWRMP,” according to Henderson.
A City of Vancouver consultation paper dated September 12, 2017 stated that there is a growing recognition about the environmental impacts of single-use items like disposable beverage cups.
The paper noted that 2.6 million plastic-coated paper cups and two million plastic shopping bags end up as garbage in Vancouver per week.
The document also stated that throwaway cups and take-out food containers constitute about 50 percent of the volume of items collected in public waste bins.
The same disposable products also make up for 41 percent of “large litter items” thrown on Vancouver streets.
The discussion paper also added that it costs $2.5 million each year to collect single-use items from public bins, and to clean up litter.
Vancouver city staff are expected to present recommendations to council in early 2018.
According to Henderson, Vancouver’s discussion paper on single-use items “suggests identifying opportunities that are most appropriately implemented on a regional scale rather than municipal scale”.
In connection with these opportunities, Henderson told the zero waste committee that “there would be benefit in Metro Vancouver working with the City of Vancouver and other stakeholders to identify and develop those actions”.