British Columbia

Contest winner will see idea to ban single-use plastics become private member's bill in Ottawa

Ben Korving has won MP Nathan Cullen's 'Create Your Canada' contest, which encourages constituents to submit ideas for a private member's bill.

Ben Korving of Terrace, B.C., wins MP Nathan Cullen's 'Create Your Canada' contest

Plastic pollution recovered by volunteers from Vancouver Island beaches in 2018. (Michelle Hall)

A Terrace, B.C., man's idea to reduce single-use plastics in food packaging will be the subject of a private member's bill, thanks to a unique contest.

Ben Korving is the winner of the Create Your Canada contest, which allows people to submit ideas for new laws.

Started by Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen in 2009, it was originally designed for high school students in his riding to participate in the law-making process. This year, constituents of all ages were allowed to participate.

Korving was sitting at his kitchen island when he saw the ad for the contest, and that's where he was inspired by his idea.

"My biggest frustration is with packaging in general, specifically the [plastic] ... that has to get tossed into the garbage after one use because they have no subsequent life," Korving said. 

"And if you look at your day-to-day examples, you'll probably find dozens within the span of a few minutes: food packaging, Styrofoam, various metals, etc."

Takeout meals typically come in a lot of single-use plastic, such as Styrofoam, that are not recyclable in many communities. (Emily Chung/CBC)

Korving's idea — banning all single-use plastics in consumer products that aren't either recyclable or compostable — beat more than 100 other entries to win this year's contest. 

"I've never won anything in my life other than maybe a Roll Up The Rim coffee," Korving said, laughing. "I was very surprised and quite elated."

Listen to the interview with Ben Korving here:

Korving's idea was picked by a panel of judges made up of community leaders across northwestern B.C.

Cullen said Korving's idea seemed "like a no brainer." And while there might be resistance from industry to this idea, Cullen said there's plenty of room for innovation. 

"There might be some in the industry that see the opportunity in this to be able to offer packaging that people know won't end up in a landfill," he said. 

Korving will now fly to Ottawa in early 2019 to witness his idea being turned into a private member's bill and tabled in the House of Commons.

With files from Daybreak North