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Environment

Vancouver Wants to Ban Styrofoam, Plastic Bags, and Disposable Coffee Cups

Flickr/Tom Simpson; Flickr/Michael

Plastic has become the latest turf for regulatory warfare in cities throughout the world.

New York has been working toward a plastic bag ban, Paris entirely banned plastic cutlery, and New Delhi banned non-recyclable, single-use plastic.

Now Vancouver is looking to rid its streets of plastic as well.  

As part of its zero-waste by 2040 goal, the city is considering banning styrofoam containers, plastic bags, and disposable coffee cups.

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Vancouver will be holding hearings throughout the summer to gauge public interest. The city has been studying how to get rid of single-use trash since February, according to CBC Canada.

The easiest target would be styrofoam, which can be readily replaced with recyclable or biodegradable alternatives, according to at least one member of the city council.

"Styrofoam does not weigh a lot... but it takes up a huge amount of room in garbage space," councilwoman Andrea Reimer told CBC Canada. "It's not recyclable, practically speaking ... so that's one where maybe a ban does make sense."

Up to 60% of plastic bags in the city are re-used as garbage bags, according to Reimer, so they might be a harder target.

And disposable coffee cups may be the hardest target of all. On daily basis, 2.6 million cups enter the waste stream, according to the city.  

Read More: Kenya Is Banning All Plastic Bags, And Planet Earth Is Extremely Grateful

"Practically speaking, you can't carry coffee in your purse," she told CBC. "So we need some way of allowing people to go on the street to buy coffee. [We'll] be working with the retailers to see what makes the most sense for them."

People all around the world are becoming aware of the hazards of humanity’s addiction to plastic. Nowhere is this danger more apparent than in the world’s oceans, which absorb at least 8 million tons of plastic each year.

Read More: 9 Sad But True Facts About How Much Plastic Is Really in Our Oceans

But efforts to ban plastic have been met with considerable resistance. Some states are even preemptively banning bans on plastic.

Plastic lobbies claim that plastic bans place an unfair burden on restaurants and supermarkets and that such a move would cost many jobs.

Plus, some environmentalists say a plastic ban would lead to a reliance on paper products, which could lead to deforestation.  

But the consequences of plastic use are hard to ignore, from polluting the environment to using fossil fuels to overwhelming municipal waste streams.

In Vancouver, coffee cups account for 22% of the garbage thrown out on streets.  

Whether or not the city actually outright bans single-use plastic this summer is up in the air.

But to hit its 2040 goal, there’s no way around it.