Some businesses in Victoria aren’t fully sold on city council’s proposed bylaw, which would require restaurants to use reusable containers when customers are dining in.
The owner of 2% Jazz Coffee said while he understands reducing the garbage handed out would cut back on the amount that goes to landfills, he thinks the bylaw is unrealistic.
“I don’t think they are going to get chinaware at McDonald’s when you sit with your cheeseburger,” Sam Jones told CHEK News.
“I don’t see that happening. So until we get that kind of guarantee, then I think we are going down the wrong path.”
Jones said instead of focusing on how much garbage is going to the landfill, council should focus on what is going there. He suggested looking at the city’s waste management system to improve compost and recycling programs.
“Maybe we should be encouraging and supporting our businesses to go carbon neutral,” Jones said.
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Calen McNeil, co-owner of Big Wheel Burger, agreed with Jones.
McNeil said Big Wheel Burger doesn’t use dishware for in-person dining, but all their to-go containers are compostable, making them carbon neutral.
“I don’t think the [proposed bylaw] works for us. I would rather encourage other people to do the same as us,” McNeil said.
He added that going carbon neutral and focusing on compostable materials would reduce the amount of garbage heading to the landfills and make a bigger environmental impact.
According to McNeil, forcing everyone to serve in-person dinners with reusable containers will still have a negative environmental impact as there will be an increase in cleaning chemicals going down the drain.
He said there will also be a financial impact on restaurants as those who don’t already have dishware would have to buy and maintain a supply, as well as equipment to clean the containers.
“If they are used to use take out [containers], they really don’t have the cleaning facilities,” McNeil added. “So there is going to be some machinery that’s needed, they may need to update their cleaning, and their space requirements could be a little bit restrictive.”
He said while there is a bit of a cost to using biodegradable materials, he thinks it would have a bigger and better impact for the city.
“Rather than focusing on doing these band-aides, if we actually focus on doing real things that make a difference, I think the community will be more supportive, and we could actually be moving our goals forward,” McNeil said.
Marianne Alto, Mayor of Victoria, told CHEK News this proposed bylaw is one tiny piece of a massive puzzle that goes back to the reality of needing to start an initiative to make the future better.
“It’s one tiny thing. There are hundreds of others, and all of them are on the radar, and all of them are things we are working on,” Alto added.
The motion, which unanimously passed in committee of the whole, still has to be passed in a council meeting before staff begin the work on coming up with a bylaw to implement these changes.
If passed, businesses will have three months to start only distributing utensils and condiments to customers who ask for them and nine months to have reusable products for food and beverages consumed in-house.