Would you pay a few more cents in bottle deposits to help keep plastic waste out of the ocean?
That’s one of the ideas being proposed by environmental group the Surfrider Foundation in a new campaign to push the province to move aggressively against plastic garbage.
The group, along with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Ocean Legacy, pitched several policy ideas during World Clean-Up Day at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach on Saturday.
Lilly Woodbury, regional coordinator for Sufrider Foundation Canada said the province’s plastic problem is immense.
“We find a lot of equipment and gear from the fishing and aquaculture industry, so rope, we find barrels, we find crates, a lot of buoys, but still we find a lot of single-use plastics,” she said.
Woodbury said during one recent cleanup session in the Broken Islands near Ucluelet, the group collected about 1,300 single-use plastic bottles in a six kilometre area, most of which she said came from B.C.
Surfrider is now calling on the B.C. government move to ban single-use plastics, such as bags and straws.
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The province is in the midst of a public consultation over regulating and potentially banning some single-use plastic items.
It comes after the City of Victoria’s own plastic bag ban was struck down in court because the city failed to get provincial authorization. The City of Vancouver is studying potential bans, and the North Okanagan regional district says it is moving ahead with a plastic bag ban of its own.
Another idea Surfrider is proposing would see producers to bear more responsibility for fishing and aquaculture gear that can often end up as plastic waste.
According to the federal government, some 640,000 tonnes of abandoned or discarded “ghost” fishing gear enters the world’s oceans every year.
A 2018 study published in the journal Nature found that more than 46 per cent of the plastic waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was discarded fishing nets.
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B.C. already requires producers of many types of recyclable waste to manage its processing through an industry organization called Recycle BC. End-use consumers often pay an eco-fee for these products.
Surfrider is also calling on B.C. to increase its plastic recycling target to 77 per cent by 2025, and to establish tougher recycled content standards for plastic that is commonly used in products and packaging.
The group is urging the public to participate in the province’s plastic consultation, which ends Sept. 30.