Victoria city staff say more needs to be done about single-use plastic items, but that significant resource and funding will be required to address the changes.
In two reports at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, Fraser Work, director of engineering and public works, and Rory Tooke, manager of sustainability and asset management, presented staff with information from the city’s first phase of its Zero Waste Strategy. The pair also discussed lessons learned about checkout bag regulations, and ongoing options to dissuade the public from using single-use items.
In 2019 the city hired a third-party company to run a waste composition study to look at 45 bins across the downtown core.
The study found on average that Victoria residents and visitors throw out 25,000 single-use items per day. This includes 13,000 paper cups, 6,300 food containers and 5,800 straws as well as half-a-tonne of food.
“The problem is we only have single-stream landfill bins in the public realm,” Work said. “It really suggests that the city needs to find new and interesting ways to promote diversion in the public realm and in the streetscape.”
One strategy staff are proposing for phase two of its Zero Waste Strategy is to introduce new, clearly-labeled tri-bins in the downtown core and in community centres. The bins would likely pilot in busy spaces, such as along Douglas Street.
Staff also addressed how more than half of the items heading to the Hartland Landfill are either recyclable or compostable, and that strategies will need to be put in place both on the education end for the public, and on the processing end to achieve the Capital Regional District’s goal of reducing the amount of items heading to the landfill by 33 per cent by 2030.
Other strategies to help accomplish this would be to explore “deconstruction services” in the construction realm, which contributes a significant amount of industry waste to the landfill.
City staff reported that approximately $50,000 would be required to develop a new single-use plastics bylaw, which would take approximately one year to complete. Staff also suggested that an additional $200,000,would be required for the implementation of the second phase of the Zero Waste Strategy, as well as $100,000 for the hiring of an additional full-time staff position.
Council approved the reports for consideration, and forwarded the question of these costs for discussion in the upcoming 2020 budget.