02/05/2016 06:04 EST | Updated 02/09/2016 10:59 EST

Vancouver Considers Ban On Plastic Bags And Coffee Cups

This is neat.

boumenjapet via Getty Images
Young woman drinking coffee from disposable cup

Well, this is a neat idea.

The City of Vancouver is floating a ban on disposable, hard-to-recycle items as part of its mission to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Staff were urged to consider restricting or banning the use of plastic bags, coffee cups, and other wasteful products in a city council meeting on Tuesday.

Coun. Andrea Reimer said it's a potential move that's been years in the making.

Vancouver is aiming to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. (Photo: Getty)

"We've spent a long time trying to work with the province on the possibility of doing a province-wide ban," she told The Huffington Post B.C. on Friday.

"The reason for this coming forward now is that, in six years [of talks], we've decided that maybe they won't be moving and it would be good for us to look at what we can do."

The first step, Reimer said, would be a voluntary program for businesses to opt out of distributing the one-use bags and cups.

That would, ideally, influence a change in Vancouverites' behaviour, making the waste taboo — something that would lead to less demand.

"They're paying for things to hand to their customers that their customers will throw away within 20 minutes."

Step two would be financial pressure on businesses, created by changes to city licences, Reimer said.

"[One-use products are] a big cost item for companies, too. They're paying for things to hand to their customers that their customers will throw away within 20 minutes," she said.

"We could offer even more financial incentive to ditch the cups."

Part of the city's 10-step "Action Plan" to combat climate change is to reduce the amount of garbage being sent to landfills by half, in comparison to numbers measured in 2008.

Those levels have already dropped by 18 per cent. The next "key" step, according to Tuesday's report, is to get a handle on everyday, single-use items that "end up as litter on public streets."

"Ten years from now, we'll look back and think wow, that was such a crazy time in North America," Reimer said of the paper-cup era. "I'm excited about it."

Vancouver's overall 'green-print'

Other parts of the city's green plan includes shifting to 100 per cent renewable energy, building more eco-friendly buildings, and encouraging greener ways to get around.

Last July, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's trademark penchant for fighting climate change earned him an invite to a two-day conference at the Vatican.

"Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity," the mayor told The Canadian Press from Rome.

Robertson was also the only Canadian mayor invited to talk climate change with the U.S. secretary of state at the Our Cities, Our Climate initiative in Washington, D.C. in October.

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