Single-use Items

You’re invited to have your say on proposed actions to reduce single-use item waste in Victoria.

Visit : engage.victoria.ca/reducesingleuse

 

Single-use items are things you use once and throw away. These can include disposable coffee cups, takeout containers and plastic products including foam products, stir-sticks, and utensils.

The City is looking for feedback from residents and businesses on a newly published Consultation Paper proposing new actions to reduce single-use item waste.

Background:

In December 2020, Council approved a Short Term Action Plan to guide zero waste initiatives from 2021 through 2023. Included in this Short Term Action Plan is the development of new single-use item regulations.

To reduce single-use item waste and encourage the regular use of reusable products, the City is considering the following changes:

-       Requiring food ware accessories such as utensils, stir sticks and straws to be distributed by request

-       Mandatory fees on disposable cups and containers

-       Bans on problematic plastic items including styrofoam products and biodegradable/compostable plastics

-       Requiring that businesses use only reusable products for dine-in services

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q – What are single-use items?

A –  Single-use items include a range of products that are designed for a single use and typically disposed of after one or a few uses. These items include bags, coffee cups, takeout containers, cutlery, straws and stir sticks

Q – Why are single-use items a problem?

A - While these items provide convenience, they come at a cost. Over 75,000 single-use items are thrown out everyday in Victoria. Some are recycled but many end up in our regional landfill. Single-use packaging is a key contributor to the plastic pollution crisis. These plastic materials are scientifically proven to cause environmental harm, according to Canada’s Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution. It is estimated that the ocean currently contains 150 million tonnes of plastic , which is mostly preventable packaging.

Q – Are reusable alternatives like reusable mugs and reusable takeout containers safe?

A- Yes. The BC CDC has specific information for grocery stores, restaurants and other food premises for employers and workers on the safety of reusable bags and containers here:

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/employers-businesses/food-businesses

Q – Why is this engagement happening now?

A - Regulating single-use items is an action in Council’s Strategic Plan and was also identified as a short-term priority under Zero Waste Victoria .   As a result of recent announcements from the federal and provincial governments detailing their plans, and confirmation from the BC Centre for Disease Control that reusable products continue to be safe for use, staff now consider that it is an appropriate time to seek community feedback on the City’s next steps to reduce waste from single-use items.

Q – What are the next steps?

A - Community feedback on the Consultation Paper is open from October 20 to November 22. Outcomes of the consultation and online survey will help inform the development of future staff recommendations and options for Council’s consideration to reduce single-use item waste. The consultation will also be used to identify whether additional, more targeted outreach is required with specific sectors of the community.

A report to Council with staff recommendations to reduce single-use items and encourage reusable alternatives is planned for early 2022.

Q – Why are biodegradable and compostable plastics problematic?

Biodegradable and compostable plastic food ware is designed to be single-use and consumes significant resources and energy in production, just as conventional single-use plastic and paper does.  Even if labelled as certified, these biodegradable and compostable plastic materials do not decompose as designed in our regional compost facilities. Most compostable plastics are screened out at regional composting facilities and sent to the landfill. Most compostable plastics are not recyclable either and can contaminate the recycling stream.

 

If you have questions, or wish to send additional feedback beyond the survey on engage.victoria.ca, please contact engage@victoria.ca. People without access to the internet or a computer can also request paper versions of the survey by calling 250.361.0210. Responses received by November 22, 2021, will be considered by the City of Victoria in preparing single-use item reduction policies.