With a public consultation taking place over the summer, Vancouver is looking to reduce the amount of coffee cups, plastic bags and various foam take-out containers in city dumps. The consultation will outline the various strategies available to reduce single-use waste and bans are not being ruled out.
Per week, over 2.6 million coffee cups make their way into Vancouver’s landfills. It is worth noting that the image above is from the Vancouver Landfill and Recycling Depot.
Andrea Reimer, a politician who sits on the Vancouver, British Columbia’s city council said, “[The cups] take up about 22 per cent of the volume of our on-street garbage system, and they’re costing us literally millions of dollars to deal with. We believe that a ban is legally possible, and we have asked staff to look very closely at that.”
Vancouver city staff have been researching ways in-which to reduce single use waste since the first quarter of 2016. The aim of this is to achieve the city’s 2040 Zero-Waste goal.
Vancouver’s potential quick wins
The Vancouver city staff are considering where the easy targets could be. One of them would be Styrofoam contains. On the topic of Styrofoam contains, Reimer said, “Styrofoam does not weigh a lot… but it takes up a huge amount of room in garbage space. It’s not recyclable, practically speaking … so that’s one where maybe a ban does make sense.”
If Vancouver did ban Styrofoam containers, it would mean that restaurants and take-out joints that rely on the foam contains will need to find a recyclable or compostable alternative. Reimer and the city staff will be consulting with businesses over the summer to ensure they can comply with a ban without it having too much of a negative influence on their business.
Could Vancouver ban coffee cups?
They could but it would come with its own set of issues.
“Practically speaking, you can’t carry coffee in your purse so we need some way of allowing people to go on the street to buy coffee. [We’ll] be working with the retailers to see what makes the most sense for them.” Reimer said.
Are there other options?
In the UK, a study is looking at different ways to cut down on single-use waste. Incentives such as a tax on disposable cups or a scheme to give free reusable cups would reduce the number of single use cups by anything between 50m and 300m. When it comes to the United Kingdom, it is estimated that 2.5bn single use cups are used and disposed of each year, creating approximately 25,000 tonnes of waste.
It was found that a 25p tax on disposable cups increased the use of reusable cups whilst a discount in reusable cups had little effect on their usage. The study in question was conducted between September and December 2016 by Cardiff University.
Vancouver could look at options like a tax on coffee cups as it seems like to be a more practical alternative to a ban. The added value of the tax is the additional money could potentially go to environmental causes and landfill clean-up.
What are your views?
What do you think of Vancouver looking to reduce single use products? Do you have suggestions that you think may work? Let us know in the comment box below.