News & Press
East-side group bags new concept to reuse old waste
Special to The Vancouver Sun
Monday, March 10, 2008
CREDIT: Steve Bosch, Vancouver Sun
Ian McSorley and Michelle Barlie, of Commercial Drive Business Society, show off the products developed from nylon banners.
An east-side business group has found a new use for old waste, and the success of the program is in the bag.
Faced with the challenge of keeping a two-year backlog of Commercial Drive's nylon street banners out of the waste stream, the Commercial Drive Business Society has transformed them into shopping bags.
Retailing for just under $4 each, profits generated from the brightly coloured bags will go directly to the development, creation and improvement of neighbourhood green spaces in the neighbourhood.
"It gives us a reasonable margin without too high a price tag to generate this revenue stream for the parks," said society marketing director Ian McSorley. "We're continuing to print street banners, so we'll have an ongoing supply of material for this project and early indications are that it's being very well received."
The street flags, each 45 by 150 centimetres, run the length of Commercial, also known as The Drive. The society first toyed with the idea of making umbrellas with the material, but it was decided the $50 price tag per item would inhibit sales.
The bag concept was deemed a more affordable option and the idea was approved by CDBS last fall. East-side company Dream Designs mapped the blueprint for the carryall, which come in two sizes and 10 colours.
"We are pleased to contribute to this fabulous community initiative by designing and manufacturing these shopping bags on a cost-recovery basis," said Dream Designs owner Bei Linda Tang. "Each of them is a unique embodiment of the Commercial Drive history that we are proud to be part of."
The street flags have been printed at a rate of 256 per year for the past two years. In 2008, the number jumped to 400.
Hung to create a festive atmosphere along The Drive, the non-biodegradable nylon transfers well into its new life as sturdy, reusable shopping sacks. According to CDBS statistics, taking the 128 kilograms' worth of nylon out of local dumps will help the neighbourhood avoid 3.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions and save enough energy to provide electricity to an average Vancouver home for over 10 months.
"The calculation is based on using these old banners rather than buying new fabric," continued McSorley.
"The fact that we've kept it out of the waste stream and utilized it for a new long-life product means we've gained those reductions in impact."
Although the dozen or so Commercial Drive businesses carrying the bags make no profit from the sales, the concept was well received due to the long-term benefits associated with improved green spaces in the east side corridor -- one that McSorley calls "under-parked" in comparison with other neighbourhoods in the city.
The society is waiting to hear back from the Vancouver Park Board, which they've asked to match the funds generated by the project.
"I think the initiative is a very good one and we at the park board should be happy to look at this to take the environmental aspect and say this is a good idea," said park board commissioner Allan de Genova.
For more information, go to thedrive.ca.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008
« View All »