The District of Tofino has adopted a bylaw banning the use of all single-use plastic cutlery, becoming the first municipality in the province to do so.
With consultation from the non-profit environmental group Surfrider Pacific Rim and its Cut the Cutlery campaign, Tofino expanded its single-use item bylaw to prohibit plastic utensils including spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks and stir sticks.
The District had already banned other single-use items including polystyrene take-out containers, plastic straws and checkout bags.
Enforcement of the ban on plastic utensils will begin Aug. 22, giving businesses a six-month transition period from when the policy was adopted.
“Banning plastic cutlery is a great step forward in the fight against plastic pollution,” Tofino Mayor Dan Law said in a statement.
“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.”
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Surfrider says it focused on eliminating single-use plastic cutlery because most items can’t be process at recycling facilities and end up in landfills.
It said plastic cutlery is also one of the most common items collected during park and beach clean-ups.
“We’re at a crucial point in history. 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,” said Lilly Woodbury, regional coordinator for Surfrider Foundation Canada.
“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.”
According to a report from Surfrider Pacific Rim in September, 60 businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet said they’d support a ban on plastic utensils, with 44 businesses already having eliminated the single-use items.
Tofino says it will work with Surfrider to offer businesses alternatives to single-use plastics.
The organization noted that Tofino’s coastal neighbour Ucluelet is close to amending its own single-use item bylaw that would see plastic utensils banned.
In July 2021, the B.C. government made it easier for municipalities to enact single-use plastic bans by removing the need for provincial approval.
Bylaws banning various single-use plastics have been enacted in municipalities like Esquimalt, Nanaimo, Saanich, Victoria, Richmond and Surrey.