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For Immediate Release
April 18, 2023


VICTORIA - Ferry passengers travelling on Earth Day this Saturday, April 22 may not realize it, but their trips along the British Columbia coast carry a variety of examples of BC Ferries’ efforts to reduce its environmental footprint.

Many examples can be found in what are likely the favourite spots of many passengers: Coastal Cafes and lounges, where BC Ferries has taken steps to decrease its dependence on single-use plastics (SUPs).

The company has been proactively working for a number of years to remove as much plastic as possible from its food service operations, says David Jorgensen, BC Ferries’ Manager, Food and Beverage. Among the many measures, he says, BC Ferries has:
  • removed plastic wrap from some food delivery carts;
  • removed plastic straws from service;
  • switched its disposable plastic cutlery to disposable wood cutlery; and
  • ensured packaging items comply with federal Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations that came into effect in December 2022 (under these regulations, the manufacture and import for sale in Canada of checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, stir sticks and straws are prohibited).
Some of these measures may not seem significant but Renée McDonald, BC Ferries’ Environment Advisor, Safety, Health and Environment, notes that if 10 per cent of customers per month used wooden cutlery instead of those made of SUPs, more than 100,000 pieces of plastic cutlery are kept out of the landfill.

“Phasing out single-use plastics and transitioning to alternate or reusable products will really help decrease our waste footprint,” McDonald says. “We are reducing the amount of material that may be sent either to the landfill or to recycling, and more products could potentially be sent to compost instead.”

Jorgensen also notes that BC Ferries food services primarily uses stainless steel cutlery and china plates and cups that are washable and reusable, avoiding the need for SUPs.

That’s not all the company is doing to reduce the amount of landfill waste and recycling it produces. Jorgensen says food services constantly looks for opportunities to avoid waste by tailoring recipes so they meet portion requirements; temporarily removing select items from the menu on certain routes at specific times of year (for example, soft-serve during winter months); and carefully ordering supplies to avoid spoilage – the warehouse teams do a great job with this difficult task.

All of these are part of a company-wide approach that acknowledges climate change and its myriad effects, and takes steps to improve its operations.

McDonald says BC Ferries is actively engaged with the following initiatives:
  • Minimizing lighting load on docked ferries after certain hours in the evening;
  • Connecting to shore power and shutting down diesel generators when vessels are in lay-up;
  • Exploring the transition to zero-emission (battery electric) light duty fleet vehicles and;
  • Using lower emission renewable and alternate fuels such as natural gas, renewable diesel, biodiesel, and electricity.
As well, BC Ferries announced last year as part of its Clean Futures Plan that it is committed to reducing its GHG emissions by at least 27 per cent below its 2008 level by 2030.

Such action is nothing new for BC Ferries, which in 2014 joined Green Marine, a voluntary environmental certification program for the North American marine transportation industry that aims to reduce the environmental footprint of marine operators by going beyond regulatory standards.

The company’s efforts have been honoured with a Blue Circle Award in 2022 from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (recognizing industry partners that excel in environmental stewardship and attain the highest level of participation in the authority’s EcoAction Program and Energy Action initiative); and, 2022 Green Wave Awards from the Prince Rupert Port Authority (acknowledging outstanding participation in the Green Wave environmental incentive program).

Read more about BC Ferries’ environmental initiatives and its Clean Futures Plan. Read more about Earth Day 2023 around the world.
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Media Contact:
BC Ferries, Media Relations
Victoria: (250) 978-1267

Customer Contact:
Victoria: (250) 410-1465
Toll-free: 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779)

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