What to know about Vancouver’s bylaws on single-use plastics

Here’s when Vancouver’s bans on plastic bags, foam containers, and straws will be in effect and what you can expect.

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Vancouver is set to tackle single-use plastics beginning in the new year, after approving new bylaws targeting plastic bags, straws, cups and utensils this week.

But don’t worry. You’ve got time to adjust. The city is working with local businesses to ensure accommodations are made where needed and that there is adequate time to phase out various plastic items.

Here’s when the bylaws come into effect and what you can expect:

Foam cups and foam take-out containers banned beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

The city is currently undertaking an education campaign, distributing toolkits and information to local businesses to help with sourcing suitable replacements for one-time use foam cups and take-out containers. You may also start to see signage at your local restaurants between now and then announcing the changes to come.

Plastic straws to be banned and single-use utensils are by request only starting April 22, 2020.

Plastic and compostable plastic straws will go extinct in the spring of 2020 when this ban goes into effect, however restaurants and bars will still need to stock bendable plastic straws wrapped in paper for patrons with accessibility challenges. The bendable straws will be by request.

Bubble tea vendors will get a one-year exemption, as there are currently no eco-friendly alternatives for the sealed plastic cups and larger straws that are a signature of the popular drink.

Another bylaw coming into effect April 2020 is a by-request requirement for single-use utensils. That means customers will have to request single-use utensils if needed, but restaurants will no longer automatically include plastic utensils with take-out orders.

Plastic bags banned and minimum fees introduced for paper and reusable bags beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

Say farewell to plastic bags at the grocery store. All plastic bags will be banned beginning Jan. 1, 2021, while minimum fees are being introduced for paper and reusable bags given out.

Paper bags will cost 15 cents per bag, while reusable bags will be sold for $1. Those fees will be in place for one year until Jan. 1, 2022 when the fees go up: 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag. Paper bags are also required to be a minimum of 40 per cent recycled content.

A 25 cent minimum fee is also being introduced for disposable cups. The city hopes this fee will encourage the expansion of reusable cup share programs.

For more information on the city’s strategy to cut down on single-use plastics, visit vancouver.ca/reduce-single-use.


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