Bag-share or take-a-bag, leave-a-bag programs
Businesses, charities, and not-for-profits are not required to charge fees on paper and reusable shopping bags that have already been used by a customer and returned to be re-used by other customers.
It is also not required to report the number of bags distributed that have already been used by a customer at least once.
Important information If a business, charity, or not-for-profit provides a reusable bag-share program, they should work with Vancouver Coastal Health to address how they will sanitize them effectively. This means the reusable bags must be washable or constructed from a material that can be effectively sanitized.
Shopping bags for prescription drugs
Pharmacies are not required to charge fees on paper and reusable shopping bags used to transport prescription drugs, or to report the number of bags distributed for this purpose.
Charitable food services
Registered charities and not-for-profits are not required to charge fees on paper and reusable shopping bags used to provide food for free or at low cost, or report the number of bags used for this purpose.
Important information Organizations must be incorporated and in good standing under the Society Act, or registered as a charitable organization under the federal Income Tax Act to qualify for the charitable food services exemption.
Small paper bags
Businesses, charities, and not-for-profits are not required to charge fees on small paper bags (less than 15 cm x 20 cm when flat), or report the number of small paper bags distributed.
Large shopping bags
Plastic shopping bags used to transport linens, bedding, or other similar large items that cannot easily fit in a paper or reusable shopping bag are permitted.
Bags that aren’t shopping bags
The by-law is specific to shopping bags and does not apply to other types of bags.
This means that there is no ban, required fees or reporting requirement for bags, made from any material, used to:
- Contain loose bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, or candy
- Contain loose small hardware items such as nails and bolts
- Protect bakery goods that are not pre-packaged prior to the point of sale
- Contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, poultry, or fish, whether pre-packaged prior to the point of sale or not
- Wrap flowers or potted plants
- Transport live fish
- Protect newspapers or other printed material intended to be left at the customer’s residence or place of business
- Protect clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning
- Garbage bin liners, sandwich bags, pet waste bags, compost liners
The above list is not exhaustive. Other bags that do not meet the by-law definition of shopping bag are also not subject to bans or required fees at this time.