“Council supports the protection of the environment of the Town of The Blue Mountains through the reduction and future elimination of single-use plastic bags, straws, stir sticks and water bottles, and encourages all businesses, community members and visitors to avoid the use of these products whenever possible. Council recognizes and appreciates the efforts of all stakeholders towards measures that support the sustainability of the natural environment in Town of The Blue Mountains.”
Town Council approved a motion on June 3rd, 2019 that, in part, implemented a voluntary ban on the use of single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and stir sticks in Town of The Blue Mountains, effective July 1st, 2019.
A voluntary ban relies on the community, individuals and businesses to make their own steps to eliminate SUPs from their daily lives. Steps toward elimination can be thought of in 5 wedges.
REDUCE and eliminate the use of plastic items without substituting them with other short-lived materials. Avoid use of items such as straws, stir sticks and convenience bags (plastic grocery bags) and drink from the tap (The Blue Mountains has the best tasting tap water in North America!). Add your cream to your coffee cup first and let gravity do the work to stir the ingredients.
SUBSTITUTE items with alternative materials that meet the functional need but are reusable and are not plastic. Use a piece of uncooked pasta as a coffee stir stick. Use cotton reusable bags for carrying groceries and other items. Use a metal reusable water bottle and fill it up with the finest tap water in North America. If you must use a straw, use a reusable metal or paper straw.
RECYCLING is possible for some plastics such as water bottles and some plastics can be reused in a bottle return program. Recycling can be effective in closing the loop on some plastic resources but it is not capable of capturing all the produced plastic. Plastic bottles for example have a cap and often a label that does not get recycled. Plastic straws, stir sticks and bags are not recyclable in The Blue Mountains.
DISPOSAL of plastic waste to prevent leakage into the natural environment (soil, water and air) will continue to be the low order option. Although, the Town’s waste collection system, park and public space containers provide a means of preventing plastic from littering the Town and environment, there will always be leakage. Plastic litter (intentional litter or unintentional litter) doesn’t just mar the landscape from a visual standpoint. Plastic litter also becomes micro litter. Micro plastic is resulting in unseen pollution on shorelines, surface water, sediment, soil, ground water, indoor and outdoor air, drinking water and food – it is everywhere and becoming worse.
RESTORATION of the Town’s environment will be a key wedge. Clean up plastic waste in your community, removing litter from the water and ground will prevent the plastic from breaking down into micro plastic and further impacting animal and human health. Don’t wait for someone else to pick up that litter. Make a point of collecting litter every time you go to one of your favorite places in the Town or someone else’s Town and encourage others to do the same.
REDUCE: The Town has banned the use of plastic water bottles at all Town facilities and will be developing opportunities to stop the use of water bottles in the field and at facilities that do not have municipal water. Town facilities will also be audited to eliminate the use of other SUP’s.
The Town wide voluntary ban on SUPs is intended to promote the culture of reducing SUP use throughout The Blue Mountains.
SUBSTITUTE: The Town encourages the use of and has provided Staff with reusable metal water canteens. Town facilities have installed water bottle refilling stations and more are planned. This type of station allow for easy refilling of reusable canteens and reduces the use of SUP bottles.
RECYCLE: The Town continues to operate a progressive blue box program that will collect and process over 1,000 tonnes of recyclables this year. Recycling options have been placed in parks and public spaces to assist in closing the loop on recyclable SUPs. If you have a question about what is blue “boxable” use the Town Waste Resource App.
DISPOSE: To assist in keeping our Town clean and part of SUP management the Town collects and landfills thousands of tonnes of waste that is not recyclable or didn’t get placed into the blue box. That material will be placed underground and kept out of sight. However, decomposing waste emits air pollution that has long lasting negative impacts on the global atmosphere.
RESTORATION: Everyday Town Staff collect plastic litter from our ground and water and every year the trend for litter in our parks is worsening. In an additional effort to keep waterways clean, the Town Harbour has installed in-water litter collection devices (Sea Bin) and conducting a catch basin filter pilot program with the University of Toronto.
Links to Provincial and Federal Initiatives
Discussion paper on reducing litter and waste in our communities 2019
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste
Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution
Manager of Communications & Economic Development