Information for residents

Concerns around plastic packaging and marine plastic pollution have emerged as a global priority.

As a coastal city, the cleanliness, health and overall care of our ocean, beaches and shorelines are of great importance to Vancouver.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 86% of Vancouver residents see the importance of reducing single-use items due to their impact.

Foam cups and foam take-out containers

Plastic straws

Using banned items after the by-laws take effect

The bans on foam cups, foam take-out containers, and, if approved by Council, a ban on the unnecessary use of plastic straws, do not apply to products sold for personal use.

Retailers are still permitted to sell these products once the bans come into effect.

However, wherever possible, we encourage you to choose reusable alternatives, or recyclable or compostable alternatives that are accepted in the:


City by-laws include provisions for penalties for food vendors that are not in compliance. We have several tools for enforcement. Initial actions will focus on voluntary compliance, education, outreach and support.

Following these initial actions, increasing levels of enforcement could include warning letters, issuing tickets that could result in fines, and referral to prosecution for non-compliant operators.

For example, the recommended fine for serving food or drink in a foam cup or foam take-out container in contravention of the proposed by-law amendment, is $250 per offence.

More information on the by-laws 

A public awareness, education, and outreach campaign launches in the fall to support the public, food vendors, and suppliers in the transition away from foam cups and foam take-out containers.

Pending Council approval, a similar campaign for the unnecessary use of plastic straws will launch in early 2020.

Further details and updates on the by-law requirements for shopping bags, disposable cups, and single-use utensils will be made available by November 30, 2019 once they are approved by Council.

Plastic and paper shopping bags, disposable cups, and disposable utensils

We plan to regulate the distribution of plastic and paper shopping bags, disposable cups, and disposable utensils.

By-law details for these items will be presented to Council for approval by November 30, 2019.

Recycling and composting single-use items

For guidance on how to properly recycle or compost single-use items, use the Waste Wizard.  

The impact of single-use items

Every week, 2.6 million disposable cups and 2 million plastic shopping bags are thrown in the garbage in Vancouver (63% of the bags are reused as garbage bags.). Cups and take-out containers make up about 50% of all items collected in public waste bins and are a significant portion of litter on Vancouver streets.

Despite their convenience, it costs Vancouver taxpayers $2.5 million per year to collect these items from public waste bins and to clean up when they become litter.

No matter what they are made of, single-use items are often not recycled or composted, take up valuable space in our landfill, have a lasting impact on our environment long after being used for a short period of time, and require a significant amount of resources to produce.

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