UPDATE – Surrey Wants To Ban Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags – Chilliwack May Follow, Wants Public Opinion

Surrey/Chilliwack – The City of Surrey wants to ban single-use plastic shopping bags.

“This is a simple and effective step that will have an immediate beneficial impact on our city,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “In this day and age where we all can play a role in curbing waste and consumption, there is no reason not to have a reusable shopping bag close at hand for bagging groceries or other goods. I have asked City staff to immediately begin work on developing the proper bylaws so such a ban can be enacted by January 2021. My Council colleagues are fully in support of this initiative and a Corporate Report will be brought forward within the next month for Council action. I want to encourage Surrey businesses, and some of have already done so, to take the initiative to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags before the city-wide ban comes into effect on January 1, 2021.”

“This is a vital step that all cities need to take in the fight against climate change,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “In early 2019, the Surrey Board of Trade called on the Provincial Government, and ultimately the Federal Government, to work in coordination towards a pathway that eliminates single-use plastics.”

“Much has been done in terms of public consultation in 2019 on eliminating single-use plastics by both the Federal and Provincial Governments. Now is the time for a coordinated, scheduled action plan across all governments, including regional governments with further consultation with businesses.”

Plastic packaging accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste globally, and much of it is thrown away within just a few minutes of its first use. Any plastic that has no number for recycling, which include items such as trash bags, Ziplock bags, cereal bags, bubble wrap, clear plastic wrap, some plastic store bags, single cheese wrappers, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles, most food packaging, toys, potato chip bags, candy wrappers, plastic rings that hold six-packs of beer or soda, are all examples of single-use plastics.

“There are innovative industry opportunities that are available now, or that can be developed, that will lead to new employment opportunities,” said Huberman.

“The world produces hundreds of millions of tons of plastic every year, most of which cannot be recycled. It’s obvious that we need to use less plastic, move towards environmentally sustainable products and services, and come up with technology that recycles plastic more efficiently.”

The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the BC Government to:

1.     Enact regulation under the BC Environmental Management Act to gradually phase out use of ‘single-use plastics’ in BC to align with the objectives of the Clean BC Plan which focuses on environmental and industrial sustainability;

2.     Commission a one-year study through industry, businesses, and educational institutions to research alternatives to single-use plastic and commit to a timeframe for complete removal of such material from the waste stream in BC;

3.     Work with the food and beverage industry to see the elimination of the production of dirty Styrofoam. This could be done through education and through incentives to industries to produce recyclable or biodegradable products (to be accepted by biofuel plants); and,

4.     Implement an awareness campaign to help consumers understand that plastic overwrap and other flexible plastics can be taken to recycle depots.

In Chilliwack, the City is conducting consultation with businesses in January 2020!  There are three opportunities to provide feedback:

1. Attend an open house: Drop by to learn more about the project, see what options are being explored to reduce waste and ask staff your top questions. Light refreshments will be provided; please bring your own mug as single-use cups will not be available.

Time: Drop in any time between 4:00pm and 7:00pm

Date: Thursday, January 23, 2020

Location: Slesse Room, Evergreen Hall (9291 Corbould Street)

If you plan to attend the open house, please RSVP by January 20 to environment@chilliwack.com

2. Participate in a workshop: Discuss the barriers you face to reducing waste and help generate ideas to overcome these barriers. Lunch will be provided. Please plan to stay for the entire workshop.

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Location: Sardis Library (5819 Tyson Road)

If you would like to attend the workshop, please RSVP by January 21 to environment@chilliwack.com. Space is limited to 20 participants, so early registration is recommended.

3. Have your say and take the survey – it will be posted here starting the week of January 20.

The survey, open house and workshop are intended to receive feedback specifically from businesses that deal with substantial quantities of single-use items. Letters have also been mailed out to target businesses regarding consultation opportunities.

What is single-use?

Use it once, then toss it out. Single-use, disposable items, including plastic bags and paper coffee cups, are meant for one-time usage before being thrown in the garbage. Unlike reusable items, they are not intended for extended use, and their disposable, often light-weight nature makes them a convenient choice for grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants and retail shops. Some single-use items can be recycled, while others must be disposed of. Items may include:

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