British Columbia releases survey on banning, recycling more plastics

Proposed actions in the province include banning single-use plastics, requiring extended producer responsibility and expanding bottle deposit-return systems.

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The Canadian province of British Columbia released a survey to gain its residents’ opinions on proposed new actions to reduce plastic waste in the province’s waterways, environment and landfills. According to a news release from the British Columbia government’s website, British Columbians are encouraged to share their opinions on plastic waste and recycling in an online survey. 

Residents are encouraged to comment on the survey until Sept. 18.

“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,” says Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman. “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.”

According to the British Columbia government’s website, the province is proposing action in four areas to reduce plastic pollution and use less plastic overall:

  • banning single-use packaging and determining which types of plastic packaging to phase out altogether; 
  • dramatically reducing single-use plastics in landfills and waterways by requiring producers to take responsibility for more plastic products and ensuring that single-use plastic items get recycled; 
  • expanding deposit-return systems to cover all beverage containers with a 10-cent refundable deposit; and
  • reducing plastic waste overall.

“By bringing industry to the table, extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs make it possible for materials to be recycled much more efficiently,” says Brock Macdonald, CEO of the Recycling Council of British Columbia. “That’s good for business and good for environment. Today’s addition is targeted and strategic increase to [British Columbia’s] already expansive series of EPR programs.” 

The province also is reviewing new ways to make plastic recycling easier, including a proposed system of electronic refunds for bottle returns, the British Columbia government reports in the news release. This method could eliminate the need to sort bottles and provide the option to have refunds processed electronically or donated to community organizations. 

Currently, British Columbia has 22 industry-led recycling programs. The British Columbia government reports that the province is also working with counterparts across Canada to develop national standards to specify the minimum amount of recycled plastic required in new packaging and products. 

“We have a responsibility to British Columbians to curb the significant impacts of plastic pollution on our environment and marine life,” says Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party caucus. “Taking action on plastic waste is a priority the BC Green caucus shares with this government, as well as with the local governments that have already shown leadership in this area. I look forward to hearing from British Columbians on their priorities for action on plastics.”

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