B.C. government seeks public feedback on reducing plastic waste – Vancouver Sun

Among the proposed actions the government is considering are bans on single-use packaging, requiring producers to shoulder more responsibility for plastic products, expanding the recycling refund program and reducing plastic waste across all product categories and industries.

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The B.C. government is asking the public to weigh in on how the province can cut down on plastics and improve recycling in an effort to protect B.C.’s waterways and environment.

Among the proposed actions the government is considering are bans on single-use packaging, requiring producers to shoulder more responsibility for plastic products, expanding the recycling refund program and reducing plastic waste across all product categories and industries.

Volunteers clean up plastics and other refuse scraps from the shoreline at Second Beach in Vancouver’s Stanley Park Saturday, June 8, 2019. Jason Payne / PNG

“The message from British Columbians is loud and clear — we need to take action to reduce plastic waste, especially single-use items like water bottles and plastic bags that often find their way into our waters, streets and environment,” said Environment Minister George Heyman in a statement.

“We have all seen the striking images of animals and fish being caught up in everyday plastic waste like grocery bags or beer-can loops that ensnare these beautiful creatures, and it cannot continue. I look forward to hearing from people about how we can all play a part in reducing plastic pollution and plastics use overall.”

Currently, B.C. has 22 recycling programs — more than any other North American jurisdiction — that cover 14 categories of consumer products. Those include packaging, electronics, residual solvents, beverage containers, tires and hazardous wastes.

Those programs collect about 315,000 tonnes of plastics annually.

The mayors of Victoria, Tofino, Squamish and Rossland also released a statement Thursday supporting the provincial survey. The four municipalities are among those in B.C. that have already adopted bylaws or are in the process of doing so that will cut down on single-use bags.

“We’ve done this because single-use plastics and other single-use items present a huge problem and big expense in solid-waste management, which is a local government responsibility. In Victoria, for example, over the last year 17 million plastic bags were diverted from the landfill,” read the statement signed by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne, Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott and Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore.

A number of B.C. municipalities are in the process of adopting or considering bans on single-use plastics such as straws and grocery store bags. Patrick Pleul / AFP/Getty Images

“We are keen to work with the provincial government to establish a clear role for local governments, our residents and businesses to move towards a sustainable, zero-waste economy and environment.”

The feedback will help inform things like the reach of a single-use plastics ban, and determining any necessary exemptions for reasons of health, safety and accessibility; possible changes to B.C.’s current recycling program and changes to the deposit-refund fee structure; as well as the possibility of an electronic refund system for empty-bottle refunds.

The public can read the proposals in detail and fill out the online survey at cleanbc.ca/plastics.

The City of Vancouver also recently launched a public survey, asking residents to weigh in on a plastic-bag ban.

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