Calgary Council Votes to Take Aim at Single-Use Plastic Waste

Connector Spring 2019

It’s not every day an 11-year-old Calgarian steps forward to speak at a public hearing in the city council chamber.

But on Wednesday, May 15, Willa Vipond was at the microphone. She skipped school to speak to the councillors because she said she cares about the environment and climate change.

She took aim at single-use items that she said are generating too much garbage in Calgary.

“I want to help get rid of single-use plastics in Calgary,” she said, recounting how she recently took part in a highway clean-up event.

“We found plastic water bottles, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic coffee cup lids and more. Every half kilometre, we filled five giant garbage bags.”

Vipond encouraged the committee to move toward banning single-use plastics.

City officials say waste from plastic bags, coffee cups, straws and take-out containers is an issue.

The leader of strategic planning with the city’s waste and recycling services, Kate Trajan, said single-use items are a global problem.

The items make up two per cent of the material that winds up getting buried in city landfills. It’s a different story elsewhere in the city. “If we are looking at garbage bins out beside the LRT station or a bus stop, it can be as much as 30 or 40 per cent of the volume of waste in there are single-use items,” said Trajan.

Officials in waste and recycling told the committee there are ways to cut down on the waste. Some of the items can be banned as some municipalities have done. Fees can be placed on them as some stores have started doing in Calgary on plastic bags.

Administration estimates it needs more than a year to come up with a preferred recommendation for city council as it must first research the issue, engage with the community and develop communication strategies on how to help a strategy succeed.

The cost of developing the strategy would be $250,000 to $300,000.

City council will discuss the proposal later this month.

Source: CBC News