By: Wendy Yu, SFU Student
In light of Vancouver’s recent vote to ban plastic straws and foam cups and containers by June 2019, The Peak reached out to two SFU professors who have already invested in the zero-waste vision to get their perspectives on Vancouver’s Zero Waste 2040 strategy. To achieve its goal of becoming a zero-waste metropolitan by the year 2040, the city of Vancouver is planning to implement a range of policies from recycling requirements on demolition permits to the Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy.
“It just seems like a no-brainer to me that we move towards reusables,” said SFU sessional lecturer and co-founder of Lupii Café Daniel Papania in an interview with The Peak.
Lupii Café is a zero-waste restaurant start-up with a mission to serve the community. It was founded by Daniel and his partner, Lisa Papania, who is also an SFU faculty lecturer and who shared his vision for a more sustainable economy. Lupii Café has beat Vancouver to the zero-waste punch since its opening in 2015, offering coffee on the go in reusable mason jars for refundable $2 deposits.
Daniel acknowledged the misunderstandings about the costs of switching to reusables, such as having to buy a commercial dishwasher. However, he pointed out that the decision to go green is supported by research, citing a study on reusable and single-use coffee cups conducted by the government of Quebec. According to the study, it will cost less for restaurants to serve coffee in ceramic mugs than paper cups as long as the mugs get reused at least 45 times, assuming an average cost of $4.50 per mug.
In light of Vancouver’s Zero Waste 2040 strategy, Daniel thinks that businesses should be more proactive in making more sustainable decisions now. He believes that it’s a good idea for businesses to be one or two steps ahead of regulation: “We notice [. . .] that businesses that try to be ahead of the legislation have an easier time adapting,” he said.
In the true spirit of the café’s mission to bring people together, Daniel envisions a future where people sit down to have their morning coffee. He thinks that our culture is causing the need for disposables.
“I think it would be good to see [the ban on plastic straws and foam containers] in part of a bigger transition where people ask themselves if their behaviour is part of the problem.” – Daniel Papania, SFU lecturer and co-founder of Lupii Café
Daniel espouses similar views when approaching the concept of a zero-waste Vancouver as an academic. He thinks that there should be less of an emphasis on econometric data in research and more of an emphasis on psychological and behavioral data. Daniel believes in a holistic approach to understanding consumption — one that includes more of a human element, saying that “I think we can make better decisions then if we’re just looking at dollars and cents.”
Moving forward, Daniel believes that it will be valuable for businesses to offer transparency regarding their impact on the environment. “I think there’s a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs to help make the whole process of consumption, in which people consume products and services, more transparent.”
When it comes to the feasibility of a zero-waste Vancouver, Daniel ended the interview on a positive note, stating, “People are more aware now than ever about their impact and everyday they’re becoming more and more aware of the impact of their decisions.”
With files from CBC News.