Will Montreal ban single-use cups, containers, straws bottles?
Will Montreal ban single-use cups, containers, straws bottles – In the autumn of 2019, Vancouver will become the first major Canadian city to ban single-use plastic drinking straws, polystyrene foam cups and containers. They are also adopting restrictions on plastic shopping bags and disposable cups – and in fact, they are aiming to completely eliminate the disposal of solid waste that ends up in their landfills by 2040.
The city estimates that 57 million plastic straws are used daily in Canada and 2.6 million disposable cups are thrown away each week in Vancouver alone. That’s a considerable amount of waste ending up in the dumps – and in our oceans.
It is all part of a movement which is growing globally, an initiative towards protecting the environment – and Montreal proudly became part of that when on January 1st 2018, By-Law 16-051, banning ‘single-use’ plastic bags (less than 50 microns) in retail stores, grocery and supermarkets came into effect.
Merchants were given a grace period at the time, allowing them to adjust to the changes and it actually comes into full effect this June 5th. As that date quickly approaches, Montreal’s initiative seems to have fallen behind in comparison to Vancouver’s more progressive approach. By-Law 16-051 was well-received by most Montrealers and the ban will have a positive environmental impact, although simply banning only the super-thin bags is like, well, a drop in a very big ocean – but just recently another initiative was put forth at city hall.
Opposition city councillor Francesco Miele announced he will propose a motion to ban the use of plastic water bottles in all municipal buildings and city events at the next council meeting on May 28th. “We need to remind ourselves that over 700 million bottles are estimated to be in our landfills in Quebec annually. Even though the plastic is actually recycled, 700 million end up in our trashcans and we have to reduce that as much as we can,” he was cited as saying in a recent CTV news report. Mayor Valerie Plante was said to be studying the motion and will have more information on Monday when it is put forth.
Miele’s initiative appears to be inspired McGill University’s announcement last March, when they declared they will be marking World Water Day, by phasing out the sale of single-use bottled water. By May of 2019, ‘non-carbonated’ water will no longer be sold at all of their food service locations and vending machines in the downtown and Macdonald campuses – and they also plan to work with event organizers to reduce the use of bottled water at the university’s events. They sell an estimated 85,000 bottles of water per year – with thousands more distributed at on-campus events, including academic conferences and student orientation events.
Both McGill’s and Francesco Miele’s plans include the installation of additional water fountains where needed to make sure people still have access to fresh, clean water. If you take a good look at the numbers worldwide, all the initiatives being taken are clearly and urgently needed. For example, approximately 200 billion water bottles are produced globally each year. In the USA alone, 2 million bottles are used every 5 minutes. Ouch.
According to a 2017 report by Market research provider Euromonitor International, one million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute – and at this rate the numbers will jump another 20% by 2021 with fewer than 20% of plastic water bottles actually being recycled. It is estimated that anywhere between 20-90% of plastic bottles end up in the trash instead where it can take between 450 and 1000 years to break down.
As for plastic bags, the Earth Day Network estimates that 2,000,000 single-use plastic bags are distributed at store checkout counters across the globe per minute. Even more disturbing is the devastating environmental impacts resulting from their production, consumption and disposal. As well, plastic bag production uses approximately 8%-10% of the global oil supply and more than 12 million barrels of petroleum in the USA alone.
Add the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels needed to transport the bottles and bags and the impact grows even more dangerously toward levels that may be irreversible. The effect it has on climate change is real.
According to a new study published last March in Scientific Reports, a massive floating island of plastic known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ (between California and Hawaii) is now three times the size of France – an area of about 617,800 square miles. And human behaviour is responsible for every inch of it. It is clear more initiatives are needed urgently and Montreal should join the global movement with cities that have been leading the way, including; San Francisco, Seattle and Boston in the US and other countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and even Kenya and Chile.
Do you think Montreal should be more progressive? Are you willing to make the sacrifices needed to ensure a clean future for our planet – and the children who will inherit it?