On July 24, 2019, the City of Victoria put on a workshop for business owners to discuss how businesses can reduce single-use items such as plastic utensils and disposable coffee cups. This workshop was in response to Council’s strategic plan to create a bylaw similar to the one banning single-use plastic bags. Attending the workshop were representatives from large-scale chains like Sysco, Sobey’s, and A&W, as well as many smaller independent businesses from the Victoria area.
The purpose of the workshop was to open a dialogue with the business community so that any policy decisions to enforce the reduction of single-use items will consider the real impact on Victoria businesses.
A common concern that was raised by several business owners was that making environmentally conscious choices is potentially too expensive to remain competitive unless there is a universalized mandate that regulates all businesses across the region.
The City’s goal is for reusables to eventually be the norm with sustainable single-use alternatives, such as fibre-based materials, as a back-up. In the immediate future, the City is looking to eliminate “unnecessary and problematic” single-use items such as Styrofoam containers and plastic straws.
Main Takeaways from the Workshop:
- More education is needed for business owners and consumers to understand the issues of single-use items and the alternatives that are available.
- A universalized mandate to regulate single-use items is needed across the region and potentially across the province.
- A cup or mug share program in Victoria may make reusable cups more accessible as a long term alternative.
- Businesses must be transparent to customers about the real cost and environmental benefit of reducing single-use items in order to maintain the support of their customer base.
- That recyclable or compostable supply must exist BEFORE a bylaw is implemented.
Overall, the City has found that the business community in Victoria remains supportive of the plastic bag ban and other sustainability considerations. Efforts to reduce single-use items will be part of the City of Victoria’s Zero Waste Strategy.
Stay tuned for our review of the next planning workshop.