Reduce Single-Use!

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Image retrieved from: https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2018/03/16/maharashtra-bans-everyday-single-use-plastic-items-march-18.html

First and foremost, we would like to acknowledge that we are operating on the unceded traditional territories of the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

Single use items such as coffee cups and containers are a huge, unnecessary problem across the globe. In Canada alone, over 1.6 billion single-use cups are thrown out every year. According to the University of Victoria Waste to Resource Assessment Report, over 62 tonnes of mixed beverage containers are making their way to the landfill every year. This is more than 3000 cups a day.  Although there is a lack of data concerning the number of single-use food containers thrown out on a daily basis, we can assume similar numbers. 

Why should we care?

1. Over 70, 000 tonnes of wood is harvested from trees every year to produce these 1.6 billion single-use coffee cups. A similar amount is also used to produce single-use containers. Trees are carbon sinks, meaning that they are natural ways of removing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. In our current climate crisis, we should be conserving all our natural carbon sinks, not chopping them down.  

2. Although many coffee cups and reusable containers are labeled as “compostable” at UVIC, they are only certified for industrial composting. Some also have a plastic lining which takes a very long time to compost. 

3. Many students have a hard time remembering which cups or containers are compostable and which are recyclable. This results in the single-use items being thrown in incorrect bins and being brought to the landfill. A reusable cup and container program would eliminate this confusion and unnecessary waste. 

4. Other schools across Canada and the United states such as MacEwan University, Mcgill University, the University of Vermont, and Southern New Hampshire University already have a reusable cup program, container program, or both in place. There is therefore no reason for Uvic not to join in.

Our proposed options:

1.     A punch card program which consists of students receiving a stamp every time they return a reusable beverage or food container. After 10 stamps (which would offset the cost of the container), the student will receive a free drink or meal.

2.     The second option consists of an optional pay in program for those who are interested. The sign up fee would be anywhere from $3-5 which would provide students with a card. Every time a student decides to use a reusable cup or container they would hand in their card in exchange for a reusable item. Once returned, the student would collect their card. Students would receive a discount of $0.50-0.75 every time a reusable cup or container was used at participating locations. The initial fee would therefore be reimbursed over approximately 10 uses.

If you would like UVic to invest in a reusable cup and container program and help reduce the amount of waste produced on campus, please sign and share our petition. If you have any additional concerns, questions, or suggestions please email us at sustainability@uvic.ca.