1.1 billion single-use items ended up in Metro Vancouver landfills in 2018: study

1.1 billion single-use items ended up in landfills in 2018 in the region of Metro Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jonathan Hayward

Just how many single-use items were tossed out in the Metro Vancouver region last year?

A recent study shows a staggering 1.1 billion such items went into disposal in 2018 — that works out to about 440 items per person in the region.

It’s the first time the single-use items category was part of the study.

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Metro Vancouver Senior Project Engineer for Solid Waste Services, Karen Storry, said, “Every couple years we do a waste composition study and this year we included 19 categories for single-use items.”

She adds the study was done at a transfer station in the fall of 2018.

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“We have a consultant look at the waste come into the transfer station and they set aside samples and sort it into over a 160 categories, weigh them and report back to us on what they found,” said Storry, “then we use that to extrapolate an estimated number of different things such as single-use items in the waste.”

Storry said, “Our study looked at a variety of single-use items that we’ve prioritized including retail bags, cups, takeout containers and utensils.”

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Instead of these items ending up in a landfill, Storry had some suggestions for those wanting to cut back on usage.

“They can bring their own bags, they can bring their own cup to get coffee. They can put their chopsticks in the green bin and those are all things that will help us reduce single use items as a region,” said Storry.

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Storry said Metro Vancouver will continue to monitor these numbers in the coming years.

The study comes as the City of Vancouver is set to phase out plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers next year.

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