Inuvik is the latest Canadian community to implement a “Styrofoam ban,” telling residents foam packaging products will no longer be permitted at town events, activities, and buildings from June 1.
While Styrofoam is a specific product – in fact, the name is said by its manufacturer to be entirely misused – the word is generally used to mean a range of plastic and polystyrene products that commonly appear as packaging materials or food containers.
In a public notice issued last week, the Town of Inuvik said such products should be “phased out over the next few months.”
The Town told residents: “When you are making your next purchase, please remember to buy paper, compostable, or biodegradable products.”
Grant Hood, the Town of Inuvik’s senior administrator, was unavailable for interview. Many of the territory’s municipal staff spent the week attending the NWT Association of Communities’ annual meeting, hosted this year by Inuvik.
“In regards to the proposed ban we will be taking into consideration public comments regarding the announcement prior to creating a formal policy,” Hood wrote to Cabin Radio by email.
“We have been in contact with local suppliers regarding alternatives.”
Polystyrene-based foam packaging products have long been considered environmentally unfriendly. They can degrade in seawater to form materials toxic to marine life.
While recycling methods do exist, few municipalities consider that method to be cost-effective.
New York City implemented a form of ban in 2019, while smaller cities in the US and Canada have long banned Styrofoam and related products.
Canada’s federal government has suggested it will implement a nationwide ban on certain forms of packaging by 2021.
Vancouver formally banned foam food packaging in January this year – a much broader ban than the one contemplated by Inuvik, extending to privately owned restaurants.
Emelie Peacock contributed reporting.