Since the Government of Canada has declared climate change as a national emergency, some Canadians have started to pay closer attention to the amount of single-use items that they use. With many fast-food restaurants, such as A&W banning plastic straws and replacing them for paper ones, Canadians are working towards declining the amount of single-use plastic that they use every day. A new study down by Metro Vancouver found out how much single-use plastic their residents used last year, and it was at a whopping 1.1 billion items.
In the study that was conducted by Metro Vancouver, they calculated the amount of single-use plastic that was used in 2018 by households throughout their area. The purpose of this study was to provide current data on the distribution of single-use items, but it highlighted some shocking numbers.
According to the study, 1.1 billion single-use items were discarded in Metro Vancouver last year, this includes plastic bags, coffee cups, chopsticks and other products that residents usually only use once before throwing them out. These 1.1 billion items work out to about 440 single-use items being thrown out per resident throughout the year. That's more than one item per day per person.
Some of the more common items that were thrown out were retail shopping bags and cups. According to the study, 256 million retail bags were discarded throughout 2018, while 262 million cups, such as coffee cups, were discarded.
However, that's only the beginning. 102 million plastic straws ended up in landfills across Metro Vancouver and 331 million utensils were also discarded.
Karen Storry, Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste project manager told CBC that much of these single-use projects could have been avoided. While a majority of these products are non-compostable, some of the items that were, such as wooden utensils and chopsticks, could have been composted opposed to ending up in landfills.
The study also found that retail bags were the most disposed items from single and multi-family homes, while the commercial sector discards more utensils.
Vancouver has previously voted to ban plastic straws and foam cups as part as their Zero Waste 2040 project.