Plans to ban single-use Styrofoam cups and containers in the Capital Regional District (CRD) are one step closer to reality after a committee voted unanimously in favour of a motion developed by two Saanich councillors.
The full board of the CRD will now consider a recommendation from the parks and environment committee that calls on staff to report back with options and implications for creating a model bylaw to ban single-use expanded polystyrene cups and containers.
“We’re now one step closer,” said Coun. Ned Taylor, who had developed the motion with Coun. Rebecca Mersereau along with Gary Holman, who represents Salt Spring Island. “I’m really pleased with the support from the committee and I’m excited to discuss this at the [board level].”
The CRD has scheduled it to go before its full board meeting Aug. 14.
Taylor said in an earlier interview that while single-use cups and containers are convenient, they are wasteful and unnecessary, have a negative impact on oceans, streams, wildlife, and other aspects of the natural environment. “There are alternatives readily available to businesses and residents which are proven to be less harmful, less wasteful, and equally as convenient,” he said.
It is not clear how many Styrofoam cups and containers are circulating through the region, but the figure is likely significant, when extrapolating from other jurisdictions. Consider the United States, where the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that residents of that country trash approximately 25 billion Styrofoam cups and take-out containers every year.
Taylor said there is a process to be followed before single-use Styrofoam cups and containers disappear. The CRD is also going down this path after a court found Victoria’s plastic bag ban was invalid, an outcome that could impact future bans.
Taylor said the region cannot give up on reducing waste, despite the recent court ruling.
“I think that today’s vote of support shows that we, as local elected officials, will not give up and that we’ll continue to push for better alternatives,” he said.
A number of jurisdictions plan or have already banned single-use Styrofoam cups and containers, with the European Union (EU) being the most significant. It will ban them by 2021 as part of a larger ban that includes almost a dozen single-use products including plastic plates, cutlery, cups, straws, plastic sticks in cotton swabs, balloon sticks and stir sticks.
The Canadian government has recently announced it plans to closely follow the EU initiative without being specific about whether it plans to ban Styrofoam cups and containers.