Plastics could be on the endangered species list for October in Nelson.
The city is considering legislation to declare October as a plastics free month, following up on a July city council resolution declaring October to be “Plastics Free Month” and directing city staff to take action to advance and promote the campaign with the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce.
At the request of city council, city staff has met with the chamber of commerce staff late last month to plan to implement the plastics free month and to discuss how to proceed, and a plan is developing.
In that regard several actions have already been undertaken in the pursuit of the eradication of plastics in Nelson, including an open letter to area businesses.
“Staff and the chamber are preparing a one-page letter notifying area businesses that October is Plastics Free Month and explaining the concept,” read a city staff report to council.
However, just what will comprise the scope of single-use plastics — just plastic bags and drinking straws or packaging — has not been determined.
It is expected that the letter will be co-signed by Mayor John Dooley and the chamber president.
The report explained that a general guide for businesses on how to best implement a pledge to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics — a one-page tips and tricks — will be included with the open letter. The chamber will also distribute the letter to its members.
The city will also be looking to promote four local businesses “that have already taken substantial actions towards reducing single-use plastics in their business.”
The plan is highlight each of the businesses in October through the city’s Facebook page.
The promotion and information relating to plastics free month for residents and the business community will be done through a specially designed “attractive visual to present” the project.
The city will cover the cost of a graphic designer, newspaper advertising fees and the prize for the pledge program, expected to be approximately $3,000.
Once it is developed the promotional material is expected to appear on the city’s website and on the Facebook page. In addition, an internal “thought exchange” has begun to gather some feedback on what the motto and tagline for the campaign will be.
Within the walls of City Hall a competition is taking place to promote a pledge program where employees are challenged to fill out and submit a pledge form “committing to changing one of their own habits with regard to theirpersonal plastic use for the month of October.”
Those pledges will be entered into a draw — for a gift basket containing an array of products to further help reduce their use of single-use plastics — which could become a city-wide contest in future editions of the plastics free month if it is deemed successful.
Also within the White Building,city’s administration, Development Services and
IT departments will undergo a “plastic use audit” next month to figure out the type and amount of plastic being generated for consumption.
“This type of data collection would then be used to determine what actions are available for these departments to further reduce their plastic usage,” read the city report.
The program could be expanded to other departments and similar audits of plastics usage would be performed later this year or early next year.
“Raising awareness and reducing the consumption of single-use plastics is also connected to the focus area of ‘Energy and Climate Change’ as the production of plastics is a carbon intensiveprocess,” read a city staff report to council on the latest proposal for plastic free in Nelson.
Instead of plastics like single-use bags and straws people can use re-usable canvas or clothe bags for purchases in stores (bring your own), re-usable metal straws (which can be purchased) and bring glass or metal containers to the coffee shop instead of getting a paper cup.
According to statistics (World Resources Institute) around eight million tonnes of plastic trash leak into the natural world each year — outside of municipal land fills — that has the potential to cause harm to wildlife.
Putting the crosshairs on plastic use
The move parallels a provincial desire to ban plastic shopping bags in B.C. Last September delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention called upon the provincial government to ban plastic shopping bags once and for all — the fifth time since the 1980s the UBCM has asked for a ban.
The ban is intended to substantially reduce the volume of disposable plastic packaging in local solid waste streams.
Already, some B.C. communities have banned single-use plastic bags altogether, including the province’s capital of Victoria.