VANCOUVER — With more than 11 million tons of plastic litter entering the ocean annually, internationally recognized conservation organization Ocean Wise is recruiting Canada’s restaurant and foodservice industry to help tackle this growing environmental crisis. Ocean Wise’s innovative new Plastic Reduction Program will support food businesses in reducing unnecessary plastic waste, thereby protecting the ocean and aquatic life.
Ocean Wise launched the Plastic Reduction Program as a new pillar of its Plastic Free Oceans initiative, which also includes extensive research on ocean plastic and microplastic pollution at the Ocean Wise Plastics Lab, the Plastic Wise Pledge and The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
“Ocean Wise has developed the Plastic Reduction Program in response to the increase in harmful single-use plastics making their way into our oceans,” says Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise Conservation Association. “We’re proud to help support and champion restaurants and foodservice businesses on their journey to reduce unnecessary plastic waste.”
Upon joining the program, restaurant-partner representatives will have a one-on-one onboarding session with the Ocean Wise Plastic Reduction Program team and complete a survey to measure current plastic use and identify opportunities to reduce, replace, refuse, re-use, or better recycle harmful and unnecessary plastics. Within the first year of joining, participating businesses will be supported in eliminating single-use plastic bags, foamed plastic, plastic straws (except to meet accessibility requirements) and single-use food ware for onsite dining, if they haven’t already. Businesses will also be supported in setting their own plastic-reduction targets and reporting their progress annually.
“The Ocean Wise Plastic Reduction Program isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We recognize that each business will be at a different point on their plastic-reduction journey, and we will work with restaurant partners to understand their plastic use, identify science-based solutions and set realistic targets,” says Laura Hardman, Plastic Free Oceans leader at Ocean Wise. “In addition to knowing that they are doing their part to protect our environment and oceans, we anticipate partner businesses will see benefits and support from their customers, as well as a reduction in their waste-removal fees.
Ocean Wise is offering the program free of charge to restaurant and foodservice partners across Canada in its first year, thanks to funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Vancity and Vivreau. The program will support partners in complying with the Government of Canada’s proposed ban on single-use plastics, as well as any future regulatory changes.