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Yellowknife pub says goodbye to straws, Styrofoam

A Yellowknife pub is axing single-use plastics such as straws and Styrofoam and bringing in compostable takeout containers.

Desiree Gautreau, a server at the Black Knight Pub, holds out straws which are only available by customer request in a bid to cut plastic pollution.
Avery Zingel/NNSL photo

“Last summer we stopped putting straws in our water glasses at lunch and we decided to take it a bit further and phase out straws entirely,” said Terry Hartwright, general manager of the Black Knight Pub. “Hopefully this does catch on and other bars follow suit.”

The Black Knight is also replacing its foam takeout containers with a biodegradable alternative and will be charging 50 cents for the compostable boxes.

Though a cheaper option for the pub, Styrofoam cannot be recycled but the move to prevent plastics and Styrofoam from ending up in the city's garbage dump is environmentally, not economically motivated, he said.

“We don't want to alienate any customers, we want to reduce our carbon footprint and so far it's positive,” said Hartwright. “I mean someone is going is going to push back at some point because of the nature of the beast, but most people are on board.”

“It was about being eco-friendly which was our goal,” he added.

Local environmental group Ecology North supports the Black Knight's efforts to reduce plastic garbage.

“Ecology North is always in support of green initiatives coming from the private sector. We're very encouraged that the (Black Knight) has decided to remove plastic and Styrofoam from their restaurant,” said Craig Scott, executive director of Ecology North.

"This really will help to divert a great deal of waste from the landfill and contaminants from the compost stream because those kinds of things end up in compost bins.”

A few other businesses in town are going straw-free and turning to biodegradable containers, he said.

“Compostable materials are widely available and we encourage restaurants and businesses to use them,” said Scott.

The Fat Fox Cafe does not offer straws and Murray's Curbside Treats'n Eats food truck uses 100 per cent compostable food containers. Companies like Pioneer Supply House have expanded their stock of compostable materials, said Scott.

“If you feel strongly about the environment and composting and appreciate the compost program, you should ask restaurants to replace their non-compostable containers with compostable ones,” he continued. “It's a pretty simple thing. It costs an extra penny or two per container but the more people do it the cheaper it gets.”

Scott noted the city is working on phasing out non-compostable containers for street vendors by January 2019.

“We'd like to move that up a little,” he said.