By JEREMY HEIGHTON
Executive Director, NSBIA
I REMEMBER GOING grocery shopping with my mom, getting the big paper bags from Safeway or Woodward’s that always seemed to hold so much, and only occasionally needed “double bagging.”
Those bags were more durable, had greater capacity and were environmentally easy to dispose of (we lived on a farm and burned our waste at the time). I also remember when businesses started shifting to plastic bags, specifically the acrid stench of the bags burning, and the black sooty smoke. All too soon we stopped burning and began to go to the dump instead.
A few years ago, my family and I switched over to reusable bags, that are reminiscent of the paper bag days; greater capacity, handles, and ease of use made the switch for us pretty easy.
Also, in recent years, we have seen the evidence of the damage single use plastics are wreaking on our environment, we see images of mass plastic vortexes in our oceans, the stories of whales, birds and other animals washing up on shore – death by plastic ingestion. I think we would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think that plastic is a global problem.
It’s time for a change.
In a Global BC news story, the reporter cited that less than 10 percent of plastic waste actually ends up being recycled. The rest ends up in our oceans and landfills.
The government of Canada, last year, committed to reduction of plastics and followed that up on with commitments through legislation to pursue single use plastic bans.
Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, Kamloops City council directed their staff to look at single use plastic bans. I met with the City’s sustainability team and provided some feedback and ideas to help in the process of embracing environmental responsibility.
Here at the NSBIA, we have written letters of support for the idea of reducing plastics, and have met with advocates to find solutions for our business members to make the switch.
There will be impacts for business as costs shift from cheap single use items, to more expensive recyclable ones; however, these costs will need to be passed along to the consumer, which may further advance the “greening” of our businesses as consumers debate whether to use that item when it comes with a real cost.
For many suppliers, this shift has been anticipated and larger chain supply firms like SYSCO, Canadian Restaurant Supply, TGP and GFS, already have a line of alternate products available through their ordering system. For smaller firms, local options such as WAMACO, major grocery chains, and wholesalers are also options.
The City of Victoria also recently compiled a resource guide for business, which provides helpful tips and ideas.
Jeremy Heighton is the executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association. he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.