Calgary

Banff pilot program swaps single-use plastics for reusable takeout containers

Order the wild mushroom ravioli from Nourish Bistro in Banff, and you'll be presented with a new option to take your leftover pasta home — pay an extra $5, get a reusable container and get your deposit back once you drop the container off.

Customers can choose to pay a deposit for a returnable container

Luna Kawano, centre, displays one of Banff Isn't Disposable's reusable takeout containers. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Order the wild mushroom ravioli from Nourish Bistro in Banff, and you'll be presented with a new option to take your leftover pasta home — pay an extra $5, get a reusable container and get your deposit back once you drop the container off.

That's thanks to a pilot project aiming to reduce the amount of waste generated in the mountain town.

Luna Kawano, founder of Banff Isn't Disposable, says around 500 containers are currently in circulation. Six restaurants are participating, with several more interested in joining up.

"We're hoping to address the issue of how do we eliminate single-use items and plastics from the townsite. And yeah, this is just one way to address the issue of single-use takeaway waste in our town," she said.

The project's website states the plastic reusable containers only need to be used seven to 15 times to generate less environmental impact than their disposable counterparts. The containers can be dropped off at any participating business.

"I think locals are very excited about it. It's pretty convenient and they know where all the restaurants are," Kawano said.

Alex Boston, owner of Nourish, said some tourists have been requesting the reusable option as well. It's been so successful he's looking to order more containers.

"Obviously, being a fairly green-conscious tourist destination, we have a lot of people who are really interested," Boston said.

"Probably around 20 per cent of the people we engage about it choose to use the program, which I think is a fairly good number."

The reusable takeout containers can be returned at any participating business. So far, six restaurants are on board. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The container program's website also states that reusable containers are safe to use during the pandemic and cites a Greenpeace statement signed by more than 100 health experts from around the world.

Kawano, who began the project as part of her studies at the University of Waterloo, has received funding through a university scholarship and from the town.

She and her volunteer team will monitor the pilot throughout the summer, and present results to Banff town council in fall.

Canada's ban on single-use plastics, which includes hard-to-recycle takeout containers, will go into effect next year.

With files from Helen Pike

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