Vancouver cracking down on single use disposable items

File: Starbucks cups.
File: Starbucks cups. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

The City of Vancouver is taking steps to reduce single use items such as disposable cups, plastic and paper shopping bags, foam food packaging and take-out containers.

As part of the Greenest City Action Plan, the City seeks to reduce solid waste going to the landfill or incinerator by 50 per cent from 2008 levels by 2020.

About 13 per cent of Vancouver’s garbage contains recyclable items, such as paper, glass, metal and various plastics. Instead, the City hopes to improve recycling programs to encourage proper disposal of reusable materials.

LISTEN: Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer discusses the initiative
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Paper cups make up 22 per cent of all litter found on the streets, and make up 50 per cent of all public waste bins in Vancouver. This despite the fact that Vancouver does allow residents to put coffee cups in the curbside recycling collection program as containers once they are rinsed and separated from the coffee cup lid.

Still, every week, 2.6 million coffee cups (polycoat paper cups) are thrown in the trash in Vancouver.

Compostable materials account for about a third of Vancouver’s waste.

The next step would be to create a robust compostable program to prevent the waste of fully compostable materials.

Some companies are looking to compostable materials to reduce their ecological footprint.

“Despite their convenience, single use items cost Vancouver taxpayers about $2.5 million a year to collect from public waste bins,” the City wrote in a statement.

A Talk Vancouver survey will be released in September to help find a sustainable solution and make Vancouver a zero waste community by 2040.

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-With files from Melissa Gilligan

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