August 15, 2022

Tackling plastics on jobsites and on shore

Vancouver-based commercial and residential developer Townline Homes aims to raise awareness about ocean plastic.

B.C. developer Townline Homes has partnered with Rugged Coast Research Society, a non-profit on Vancouver Island, to raise awareness about ocean plastics and how the construction industry can embrace a more circular economy.

In June, members of the Townline Homes team joined Rugged Coast for a cleanup of 42 kilometres of shoreline in a remote area near Tofino that is inaccessible by vehicles.

Townline, a Vancouver-based developer that is active in both the commercial and high-rise residential space, is deeply committed to sustainability and sees partnerships, like the one with Rugged Coast as one way that it can enrich communities by looking after the environment and investing in our collective future.

“Townline’s gameplan is simply to reduce plastics and our campaign began with getting rid of plastic bottles in our sales centres and jobsites and installing bottle fillers instead,” said Townline Homes CEO Rick Ilich. “Our next step was to educate our own internal team about the issue and what they can do as individuals to heal the planet. We work with partners like Rugged Coast to enrich our volunteering efforts, but ultimately, we recognize that we need to change our mindset and educate more people to move the needle.”

With funding from Townline Homes, Rugged Coast was able to remove 6,800 kilograms of marine debris from 42.2 km of remote and hard-to-access coastline in seven days of field work. Of the 6,800 kg, over 80 per cent was sent to recycling facilities or set for reuse.

“The aspiration and ultimate goal is to find partnerships with organizations that can process our site plastic and reuse that material for our projects, like children play areas or benches,” said Greg Gerke, director of construction at Townline Homes. “We want to ensure that our site plastic does not end up in landfills or in the ocean.”

Rugged Coast works with the Richmond-based Ocean Legacy Foundation to recycle any clean plastic collected, but plastic that has been contaminated with algae, seaweed and sand must go to a landfill.

“Our goal is to give new life to what we collect,” says Rugged Coast director Renny Talbot. “We have a team of innovators who are working to find solutions and share what can be done.”

“Our team went to a remote area that was cleaned four or five years ago, and it was so impactful to see how this area had not been touched by people, but by their actions,” said Ilich. “It emphasizes that something needs to be done. During the one day we were on site, we bagged 10 super sacks of marine debris equalling 800 kg on 2.6 km. We know we’re not going to solve this problem overnight, but we can do our part in spreading the message and raising awareness.”

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