Vancouver, Canada wants to become a zero-waste city – no easy feat for an area with over 600,000 people. But as part of its Greenest City Action Plan, the city is exploring options to limit single-use packaging, like all those coffee cups, plastic bags and foam take-out containers littering our landfills. This summer they’re launching a pilot program to allow restaurants to fill take-out orders in reusable containers brought by patrons.
Vancouver is teaming up with Vancouver Coastal Health to allow retailers and restaurants to fill orders in customer-brought containers. They pointed to container share programs in San Francisco, New York City, and Portland as examples of alternatives to the single-use waste issue in the past. Vancouver Coastal Health will work to ensure food safety and health for the program.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement, “Vancouver is on track to be the greenest city in the world by 2020, and taking these next steps to reduce coffee cups, Styrofoam, and plastic bags from our landfills will take our environmental leadership to the next level.” He called for city residents to weigh in on reducing single-use packaging waste. If you live in Vancouver, you can find out about zero waste events or sound off on your ideas here.
Even though Vancouver is taking large strides towards becoming a zero waste city, they’ve got a long way to go. According to city officials, 2.6 million coffee cups are tossed into the garbage every single week there, while around two million plastic bags end up in the trash. They also frequently find foam in Vancouver shoreline cleanup projects. But the effort to prioritize a zero waste future is a positive step, as the city encourages its citizens to shift their thinking on waste.