Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy

The City of Chilliwack is engaging with businesses in the lead up to the implementation of its Single-Use Item Reduction Bylaw on April 1, 2022.  Project information is available here and on Engage Chilliwack

The City of Chilliwack’s Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy was adopted in 2020 and updated in September 2021. The strategy is a comprehensive plan intended to reduce waste from shopping bags, drink cups, take-out containers, straws, and disposable utensils. Initiatives include a Single-Use Item Reduction Bylaw banning the distribution of several problematic single-use items, establishing minimum fees on some single-use items, and requiring that others be provided by request only, as well as educational programs and continued dialogue with businesses and stakeholders. 

Note: references to plastic mean all types of plastic, including biodegradable and compostable plastic.


 

What is single-use?

Use it once, then toss it out. Single-use, disposable items, including plastic bags and paper coffee cups, are meant for one-time usage before being thrown in the garbage. Unlike reusable items, they are not intended for extended use, and their disposable, often light-weight nature makes them a convenient choice for grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants and retail shops. Some single-use items can be recycled, while others must be disposed of. Items may include:

 

Why is single-use a problem?

It’s easy to see the appeal of single-use items: Use it once, then toss it out.

But while these items are intended for short-term, single-use, they can take hundreds of years to decompose, contaminating our waterways, polluting our communities and filling up our landfills. Some items are recyclable, but due to material composition, many single-use items are confusing and/or hard to recycle. As a result, single-use items contribute directly to the amount of plastic in landfills.

Aside from creating waste, single-use items require significant resources like water and energy to be produced. The production process creates greenhouse gases, which can contribute to climate change. Their reusable counterparts also require resources, but thankfully last much, much longer.

 

How can we reduce single-use items?

There are different ways to reduce single-use items, and Chilliwack’s strategy includes a combination of regulatory and educational components. Other communities have already introduced regulatory measures, such as bans or mandatory fees to encourage reduction. 

The City encourages all residents and businesses to consider how they can start reducing single-use items.  

Please see the "Single-Use Item Reduction" brochure for ideas and tips on ways residents can begin reducing single-use items.

 

Are we the only ones doing something about it?

Steps are currently being taken by the Government of Canada to develop an integrated management approach to plastic products, including many single-use plastic items. This strategy may include bans on items like plastic bags and stir sticks.

The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has also developed a Clean BC: Plastics Action Plan. The plan takes actions in four policy areas, including expansion of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs.

Over thirty other municipalities in British Columbia are investigating the impacts of single-use items on their communities or have already implemented bylaws to regulate their use.

 

When is this happening? What’s next?

The Single-Use Item Reduction Bylaw is scheduled to come into effect on April 1, 2022.  The timeline could be subject to change based on the COVID-19 pandemic and the status of economic recovery.

Consultation with residents and businesses took place in 2019, 2020, and 2021 - thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback! Overall, our consultation within the community found high levels of support for single-use item reduction initiatives, including education, regulations, and measures that make it easier to bring reusable alternatives to businesses.

In September 2021, the  Single-Use Item Redution Bylaw 2021, No. 5062 was adopted by the City of Chilliwack. The bylaw will come into effect on April 1, 2022. 

For more information about this initiative: Engage Chilliwack or environment@chilliwack.com

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