While Vancouver has made significant strides this decade to increase recycling and decease waste, the city says there’s still one area that could use serious improvement.
Single-use garbage from fast food outlets and coffee shops – including coffee cups, plastic bags, and styrofoam food boxes – are still being put in garbage cans more often than not, according to a recent city report. This despite the fact they can be recycled through Metro Vancouver’s Multi Material Recycling Program.
“A significant amount of these materials are disposed in the City’s litter and garbage collection program, and reducing their distribution at the point of sale, if possible, is preferable from a waste management and environmental protection perspective,” wrote city staff in their report.
“Accordingly, this report recommends that staff review options to target the distribution, use, and recycling of these items, including exploring options to restrict or ban their use, and report back to Council.”
Albert Shamess, the city’s Director of Waste Management Resource Recovery, says they’re looking at a number of options.
“While we can look at a ban, we’re more likely to get some success with take back programs and perhaps deposit return,” he says. A pilot street recycling program is also being prepared for launch.
Vancouver psychologist Dr. Joti Samra says part of the problem stems from how people act once they leave their home.
“We’re much more likely to comply with behaviour change around recycling change at home, but when we get out in public there’s this diffusion of responsibility,” she says.
“You’re walking into this big coffee shop, and somehow our mind thinks this is their responsibility.”
– With files from Jennifer Palma