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Tofino 1st in B.C. to ban single-use plastic cutlery

The amended bylaw includes banning plastic spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks and stir sticks
Visitors and locals can help reduce their own plastic consumption by carrying re-usable cutlery sets like these ones available at the Tourism Tofino Cox Bay Visitor Centre. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Tofino became the first municipality in British Columbia to ban single-use plastic utensils, including spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks and stir sticks.

On Feb. 22, Tofino council adopted an amendment to the Single-Use Item Regulation Bylaw, which adds plastic utensils to the already banned single-use items, including polystyrene takeaway containers, plastic straws and plastic bags.

“Banning plastic cutlery is a great step forward in the fight against plastic pollution. I am particularly thankful to Surfrider for their leadership on this critical front, and I am proud that our business community has so enthusiastically endorsed this effort. This is one win in a larger battle, and I look forward to further initiatives to keep our local and regional communities at the forefront in the fight against plastic waste,”said Tofino mayor Dan Law in a joint press release with Surfrider Pacific Rim.

The Surfrider Foundation’s mission is the protection and enjoyment of the ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, which is enacted through a powerful activist network. Following the victories of the Straws Suck and Ban the Bag campaigns, the Pacific Rim chapter launched the ‘Cut the Cutlery’ campaign in 2019 to eliminate plastic and bioplastic cutlery. The campaign focused on building community compliance while working collaboratively with the Tofino and Ucluelet to amend existing bylaws to include single-use plastic utensils.

Tofino’s Single-Use Item Regulation Bylaw aims to reduce single-use plastic waste in the Pacific Rim and to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production and usage. Local businesses will have a transition period of six months before enforcement of the newly banned items begins on Aug. 22, 2022.

The District of Ucluelet is close behind with adoption of the amended Single-Use Item Regulation Bylaw anticipated in the coming weeks.

“We’re at a crucial point in history,” said Amorita Adair, chair of Surfrider Pacific Rim. “The planet is beyond its ability to absorb the negative externalities of a linear economic system, and our communities are ready and willing to take more drastic action to curb the plastics crisis. Our vision is to make the West Coast a leader in addressing plastic pollution in Canada, lighting the way for other locales to look to and follow.”

There are already 44 businesses on the Pacific Rim that already use alternatives to plastic cutlery and many more support the ban, notes Surfrider Pacific Rim.

The District of Tofino will continue to work alongside Surfrider Pacific Rim to provide community awareness, assist businesses in their transitions and offer recommendations on approved alternatives from single-use plastics.

READ MORE: Tofino revises sewage treatment strategy

RELATED: Push continues to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles

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