Victoria city staff recommends further limiting of single-use plastics
Over the summer, the city analyzed the garbage found in city garbage bins and found that 30 per cent of it was single-use items and packaging. (CTV)
VICTORIA - Despite having its plastic bag ban struck down by British Columbia's highest court, Victoria is looking at ways to further reduce the prevalence of single-use plastics as part of the city's Zero Waste Strategy.
The strategy aims to help the city and the community transition to a future where materials are avoided, reduced and reused instead of sent to the landfill. Single-use materials and wasted food represent the majority of material disposed of across the city.
"Council asked us to bring back an assessment of resources required to do a comprehensive bylaw regulation development that would cover not just one single-use item but a whole suite of them," said City of Victoria director of engineering and public works Fraser Work. "There's beverage cups, there's food containers, food cutlery and plastic bags; those are kind of the main hitters."
The city's Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw came into effect on July 1, 2018. It banned the use of single-use plastic bags within the City of Victoria. In July of this year, the bylaw was struck down by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The court ruled that because the primary goal of the bylaw was to protect the environment, the city should have received consent from the B.C.'s minister of the environment. The city didn't get that consent, so the bylaw was struck down.
On March 14, 2019, Victoria city council adopted the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan under the Climate Leadership and Environmental Stewardship Strategic Objectives and identified the need to ban single-use coffee cups, straws and single-use takeout containers.
"I think what we've seen even after the bylaw was struck down at the Supreme Court was most outlets that offered up bags stayed the course on the content of the bylaw because they cared about the things that they contained," said Work. "We had a big discussion for a lot of months about why this is important and how this reflects the values of Victorians to actually move away from stuff that becomes waste as soon as it is given to you."
Over the summer, the city analyzed the garbage found in city garbage bins and found that 30 per cent of it was single-use items and packaging. More than 13,000 single-use cups and more than 12,000 takeout containers and straws were collected in the bins each day.
"The report says, 'Let's try replacing those single-use food containers with these reusable ones and develop an ecosystem here and see if we can make a big difference,'" said Work. "We can do this while we wait for the federal and provincial governments to mature their strategies and plans, which seem to be aligning in their long term direction to get rid of these problem materials."
Staff has identified targeted materials and stakeholder groups as part of the second development phase of the Zero Waste Strategy, and this includes single-use item reductions. The proposed actions in 2020 are to advance towards zero waste, including enhancements to municipal waste services and planning to support waste reduction in the food service industry.
Council is expected to review and discuss the reports at Thursday's committee of the whole meeting.