Victoria is looking at shifting the culture of single-use coffee cups and other single-use to go containers. Saanich might be following. (Photo: Freeimage4life/CC)

Saanich councillors call for ban on disposable plastic products

Plastic bag ban takes effect Jan. 1 with bans on coffee cups and takeout containers being considered

After speeding up efforts to ban single-use plastic bags, Saanich is now setting its sights on banning other disposable items.

“I think we do need to go forward and ban unnecessary, single-use products,” said Coun. Zac de Vries. He made these comments Monday as council gave first and second reading to a new bylaw banning single-use plastic bags. While Saanich had first planned to give businesses a six-month grace period, de Vries convinced his colleagues to implement the bylaw on Jan. 1, 2020 instead, pending public input.

RELATED: Saanich to ban single-use plastic bags by Jan. 1, 2020

“I don’t anticipate this grace period being necessary,” he said. “Think about how many plastic bags we are preventing from entering circulation. This is a time we can take leadership.”

Coun. Ned Taylor agreed with de Vries’ arguments. “Our efforts should not stop at plastic bags,” said Taylor. “We should also be looking at banning Styrofoam, plastic cutlery, coffee cups and much more.”

The City of Victoria announced last month that it plans to study the ban of single-use coffee cups and single-use takeout containers. Victoria was the first the community in the region to ban single-use plastic bags and has also voted to ban single-use straws.

RELATED: Banning single-use plastic will ‘stimulate’ sustainable economy, says store owner

With these moves, the two largest communities in the Greater Victoria region are following communities across British Columbia, Canada and North America in banning various types of disposable plastic products.

But these moves have also received criticism from different quarters. The Canadian Plastics Industry Association has questioned the environmental effectiveness of banning single-use plastic bags, while announcing what it calls are “ambitious” targets to reuse, recycle or recover 100 per cent of plastic packaging by 2040 in collaboration with various actors.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, have questioned current efforts to reduce plastics as unambitious, a critique with some sting, as the European Union — currently home to more than 500 million people — voted to ban all single-use plastics by 2021, with additional restrictions coming into effect in 2025.

Saanich councillors received a taste of this critique when former councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff questioned the pace of Saanich’s efforts.

While this council is doing more than the previous council, which he accused of dragging its feet, the pending ban is insufficient in light of the damage that plastic is causing to the environment, said Bondaroff.

“It’s really not much,” he said. “We need Saanich to show some leadership. I would like to see Saanich step up and ban other unnecessary single-use plastic items.”


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