In a pivotal move towards a more sustainable future, Canada has taken a bold step to combat plastic pollution and safeguard the environment. Effective December 20, 2022, the nation imposed a ban on certain harmful single-use plastics (SUPs). This important decision targets six categories of SUPs: checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware made from or containing hard-to-recycle plastics, six-pack ring carriers*, stir sticks, and straws. These items have long been a menace, finding their way into landfills, oceans, and natural ecosystems, causing untold harm to wildlife and biodiversity.
The tourism and hospitality industry is recognized as a major contributor to SUP waste, particularly in the food and beverage sector, faces a significant challenge. The ban necessitates that businesses within this sector explore sustainable, affordable, and convenient alternatives to SUPs.
Embracing Sustainable Solutions:
- Ask First Policy: This innovative approach entails asking customers if they require or desire specific SUP items before automatically providing them. For instance, hotels can inquire whether guests need plastic cutlery or stir sticks when ordering room service. Similarly, restaurants can ask patrons if they desire straws or napkins with their beverages. This conscientious practice not only curbs unnecessary waste but also helps businesses save costs by diminishing their SUP usage. Furthermore, it empowers customers to make environmentally conscious choices, aligning with global sustainability efforts.
- Bring Your Own Policy: Encouraging customers to bring their reusable items instead of relying on SUPs is a proactive approach to reducing plastic waste. For example, coffee shops can offer discounts or incentives to patrons who bring their own cups or mugs. Grocery stores can charge a fee for plastic bags while promoting reusable bag use. By embracing this policy, businesses can decrease their dependence on SUPs and foster a culture of reuse among their customers. Customers, in turn, benefit from cost savings and a reduced personal plastic footprint.
Win-Win for Business and the Environment:
These policies are not only eco-friendly but also advantageous for businesses. They help establishments comply with the ban and avoid potential penalties or fines. Additionally, they contribute to enhancing an organization’s reputation and brand image as environmentally responsible and socially conscious. Moreover, these practices attract environmentally conscious customers seeking sustainable options and experiences.
Seizing the Opportunity for Innovation:
The ban on SUPs represents an opportunity for the tourism and hospitality industry to innovate and transition towards a more sustainable future. By implementing policies such as Ask First and Bring Your Own, businesses can substantially reduce their plastic waste generation, aligning with Canada’s goal of achieving zero plastic waste by 2030.
*They can continue to be imported and manufactured for sale in Canada until June 20, 2023 and their sale is not banned until June 20, 2024.