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Vancouver targets straws, bags in strategy to cut down on plastic garbage

Plastic waste washes ashore in Vancouver.

MARK YUEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Plastic straws are among the items in the crosshairs as Vancouver develops a strategy to cut down on plastic and Styrofoam waste by placing restrictions on single-use disposable cups, bags, takeout containers and utensils.

The city says it costs about $2.5-million a year to collect single-use items from public green spaces and waste bins, and its strategy contains proposals to reduce, reuse or recycle the offending items.

In its strategy, the city says plastic straws and stir sticks make up about 3 per cent of shoreline litter in Vancouver.

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Some Vancouver businesses, including the city’s aquarium, have already phased out the items, while Victoria is set to ban straws in July, following the lead of Montreal, which abolished them in January.

The Vancouver chapter of the not-for-profit Surfrider Foundation is working with local businesses to cut down on the amount of plastic garbage and has developed the Straws Suck campaign encouraging a switch to paper straws.

Vancouver’s plan to cut down on plastic trash calls for an evaluation of methods to recover street-cleaning costs from businesses that distribute single-use items, while the entire strategy is due to be considered by council in mid-May.

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