PHC ready to meet Vancouver's ban on single-use items
Submitted by Sarah Currie, Sustainability Consultant, Energy and Environmental Sustainability
Vancouver’s new Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy has prompted new city bylaws, resulting in food service changes to reduce waste, and PHC is more than ready!
Two new bylaws, effective in early 2020, will ban foam cups and foam take-out containers (January 1, 2020) as well as plastic straws (April 22, 2020).
Aiming for a goal of zero waste by 2040, the strategy includes actions to reduce single-use items like shopping bags, disposable cups, foam take-out containers, plastic straws, and single-use utensils. This is the widest range of actions found in any municipality in Canada.
Foam Cups and Containers, Plastic Straws
The ban applies to businesses, which means retail food service providers in PHC sites (coffee shops, cafeterias) will no longer be able to serve food in foam cups and containers or provide plastic straws, including plastic straws that are labelled compostable. However, food vendors must provide accessible bendable plastic straws to customers upon request.
This is a change that PHC facilities have already made—its retail sites stopped using foam in 2014 and made the switch to compostable paper straws in 2019.
Patient food services and care areas in hospitals and community care facilities are exempt from the ban on foam cups and foam take-out containers. These areas will also be exempt from the upcoming ban on plastic straws as they must be able to meet the accessibility needs of patients who require a bendable straw.
Can We Do More?
PHC wants to align with municipal best practices whenever we can. Though patient care areas are exempt from the new bylaws, the momentum created by the general ban on single-use items can help us push to further reduce PHC’s environmental impact.
The Energy and Environmental Sustainability team is currently evaluating where plastic straws are being used in our hospitals and are researching other options. Of course, we will always have bendable plastic straws available for those clients who need them. But when a client does not require a bendable plastic straw, an environmentally preferable (non-plastic) option may work just as well.
Questions or ideas? Contact Sustainability Consultant Marianne.Dawson@vch.ca.
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