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Can an e-mail make a diffference?, zero waste, Zero Waste Food?, Zero-Waste Fast Food?

An e-mail from the government about reusable containers.

One of the things some people say when I tell them about my zero-waste fast food adventures is that businesses are probably not allowed to do that. “You know like health or food safety or something like that“. Well I took food safe and I own a dishwasher so what else do I need to know? But wait, here are some real answers from a real government official. Not just a crazy woman typing on her couch…

Below is a letter from Tim Lambert from the Ministry responsible for Healthy Living and Sport, which is responsible for Food Safety in BC, Canada. I heard about this letter when I attended the Clean Bin Project viewing earlier this year. Here is the Clean Bin Project’s blog post I copied the letter from  http://cleanbinproject.com/2010/11/05/are-reusable-containers-unsanitary/.

“. . . There is no provision within the Food  Premises Regulation that specifically prohibits the use of reusable  containers. Section 12 mandates that an operator must (a) protect food  from contamination; and, (b) store, handle, prepare, display, and  dispense food in a sanitary manner.  Some food premises may allow or  even encourage the use of reusable containers for environmental benefits  or cost-saving potential. However, some may interpret the regulation  in such a way that reusable containers prevent operators from keeping  food and the premise sanitary.  Some opportunity for cross contamination  exists, such as with grocery store delis that place containers on  weighing scales or restaurants bringing containers into the kitchen  area, which is probably why some food premises may interpret the  regulation to prohibit this type of activity.

I agree that reducing packaging is an  important environmental concern and encourage the use of reusable items  where their use does not create public health concerns.  Although a food  premises’ policy will be informed by their interpretation of the  legislation, I would encourage you to speak with the operators of the  food premises you frequent and try to reach a solution. You may wish to  share a copy of this email with them.

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

Yours truly,

Tim Lambert Executive Director Health Protection”

Timothy Lambert is the Executive Director of Health Protection, BC Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport. The Health Protection branch addresses food safety, source and drinking water, on-site sewerage, air quality, healthy community environments, community care and assisted living residences. Tim holds an adjunct position with University of British Columbia, School of Environmental Health and has two areas of research: the People’s Health Commission of Nova Scotia, evaluating the impact of coke and steel production on the residential community adjacent the Sydney Tar Ponds; and, public health ethics, in particular, developing the concept of environmental justice. Tim holds a BSc. in biochemistry from the University of Calgary, an MSc. in environmental science and engineering from the University of Alberta, and a Ph.D. in Public Health Science from the University of Alberta.                                                             – bio from a BC environmental conference

So basically businesses will  not be in any legal danger from doing what their customers ask in regards to personal reusable containers. Cool. I think I might have a “happily married totally platonic zero-waste” crush on Tim Lambert.

Does this excite you or is it just me?


“To achieve true sustainability, we must reduce our ‘garbage index” – that which we permanently throw away into the environment that will not be naturally recycled for reuse – to near zero. Productive activities must be organized as closed systems. Minerals and other nonbiodegradable resources, once taken from the ground, must become a part of society’s permanent capital stock and be recycled in perpetuity. Organic materials may be disposed into the natural ecosystems, but only in ways that assure that they are absorbed back into the natural production system.”

David Korten

“We must convince each generation that they are transient passengers on this planet earth. It does not belong to them. They are not free to doom generations yet unborn. They are not at liberty to erase humanity’s past nor dim its future.”

Bernard Lown and Evjueni Chazov


About stephanieough

Wife, mom, concerned citizen of the earth. Striving towards intentional living rather than blindly following. Former Education Specialist for a corporation, I have now taken a step back to spend time with my family and work closer to home. Hoping to reduce our waste through refusing, reducing and reusing so that we will not have to recycle as much. Also, I love to explore zero-waste fast food and take pictures of my sucesses. I'm a fan of British comedies like Red Dwarf and Black Adder, Kevin Smith and his movies, Asian food, documentaries, biographies and going to Las Vegas on vacation. If someone told me I could only listen to the Beatles for the rest of my life I would die happy.


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