Town of Inuvik aims to be Styrofoam free by June

Inuvik is hoping to become more green by eliminating Styrofoam at town events, activities and buildings.

Town working with stores and organizations to reach goal, says mayor

Devon Burgess, manager of Twisted Concession at the Midnight Sun Complex, says the restaurant uses about 100 containers everyday. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Inuvik, N.W.T., is hoping to become greener by eliminating Styrofoam at town events, activities and buildings.

The idea sprang from the town's environmental working group, focused on how it could reduce environmental impacts including curtailing waste headed to the landfill.

Mayor Natasha Kulikowski said the group thought Styrofoam — a non-biodegradable substance — would be a good place to start.

"The town wants to lead the way in making change," Kulikowski said.

"All the garbage that comes in the North, stays in the North."

 A committee member reached out to grocery stores in town "to see what they have on hand, what they're looking at going forward," and to get a price comparison so the town knows what the financial impact will be, Kulikowski said.

"My understanding is that Stanton's will be setting up a whole section ... that will be things that are compostable or reusable options for people to buy."

Kulikowksi said she believes Northmart will be taking a similar approach.

Inuvik Mayor Natasha Kulikoski says eliminating Styrofoam will help reduce waste that ends up at the town's landfill. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC )

Kulikowski said they will also be making sure Styrofoam isn't used at town-hosted events. Town employees have already engaged with vendors at the Arctic Market about alternatives.

Other communities near Inuvik have also made steps to be more environmentally friendly.

It's been years since Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., banned plastic bags. Dawson City, Yukon, just passed a bylaw to ban single-use plastics as of mid-April.

'This was inevitable'

One business that will be directly impacted by Inuvik's Styrofoam ban is Twisted Concession, the only restaurant in town that operates out of a town-owned facility — the Midnight Sun Complex.

Devon Burgess, manager of the restaurant, said he first found out about the announcement through Facebook.

"I don't think anybody can rightfully say they are surprised by something like this … this was inevitable," Burgess said.

"I knew it was always coming, I just didn't think it would be so abrupt."

He said his business uses about 100 containers every day.

'We are not going from Styrofoam to not Styrofoam overnight. It’s going to be a process,' says Devon Burgess, manager of Twisted Concession. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The concession currently only serves food in take-out containers. Burgess said about half of the concession's orders are served in Styrofoam ones.

"They're liquid tight ... we can make a poutine in it, whereas our paper boxes can't currently do that. People would be having gravy all over their lap."

Burgess said one solution could be creating a set-up for people to eat at the complex and use reusable baskets, like at the restaurant's airport location. 

'It's going to be a process'

Burgess said he wants the restaurant to be more environmentally friendly, but is wary that new packaging could increase costs. 

"It sucks that everything that is more effective, costs more. If it's a small increase … prices will stay the same, but if I find that's not the same, prices will have to increase, because that's business."

Burgess said anything that's going to help the environment is a good thing, but he hopes people understand the change will take time.

"We are not going from Styrofoam to not Styrofoam overnight. It's going to be a process."

Kulikowski said although the goal is to be Styrofoam free by June 1, that's not a tight deadline. She said she understands people will need to use up products they currently have, and the intent isn't "to throw anyone under the bus."

"As long as we are all working together and communicating, I think we should be OK with moving this forward and … what we are putting in the dump will eventually break down."


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