The federal government had plans to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

The federal government had plans to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Chilliwack ready with new strategy to reduce harmful plastics

Chilliwack looks at banning some plastics, establishing fees, or requiring some be ‘by request only’

Chilliwack’s new strategy for reducing harmful plastics is ready for implementation in early 2022.

Council is considering adoption of a new strategy aimed at banning or reducing items from plastic bags to foam take-out containers in order to reduce litter and unnecessary waste.

The new ‘Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy,’ recommended by staff after months of research and consultation was on deck to be approved by council at the Tuesday afternoon council meeting.

The new strategy “complements” federal and provincial efforts to move ahead on dealing with the problem of plastic waste, with a made-in-Chilliwack plan.

The pandemic delayed the rollout of some of these broader initiatives, but Chilliwack has done the prep work to be ready to move ahead and take action in the next two years.

Extensive consultation was undertaken by a consultant in 2019 and 2020 to gauge public opinion, and it mostly showed there is “favorable” support restrictions and education efforts to actively decrease Chilliwack’s reliance on “problematic plastics,” according to the staff report for the Dec. 15 council meeting agenda.

Chilliwack’s strategy will be aimed specifically at: shopping bags, drink cups, take-out containers, straws, and disposable utensils.

The actions could range from banning certain single-use items outright, establishing minimum fees on others, and requiring some be “by request only.” The changes will come with education and open dialogue with businesses and stakeholders.

To get there, city officials will need the buy-in and support of the local business sector.

“The implementation of a Single-Use Item Reduction Bylaw and the proposed regulations in the reduction strategy can only succeed with the support of businesses.

As part of the strategy, city officials will consult further with businesses “to provide clarity on the requirements of the bylaw,” as well as educational materials to help bring them into compliance.

Educational materials, guidelines, and signage could be ready in 2021, and businesses will be notified of the requirements of the bylaw following its adoption.

Following its adoption, the single-use bylaw would need to be submitted to the province for approval, so that might change the implementation timeline, which would be amended at a later date.

Many municipalities across Canada are taking similar steps now to address the problem of packaging and plastics within their jurisdictions. Victoria opted to ban plastic bags although it is dealing with a court challenge, while Vancouver is targeting straws and foam containers specifically. Several smaller communities have recently announced plastic-bag bans, like Tofino, Ucluelet, Rossland, and Salmon Arm.

RELATED: Pandemic delayed the rollout somewhat

RELATED: City hall started looking at plastic reduction

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