Information for residents

Momentum for change led us here. Commitment to change will get us there.

86% of Vancouver residents see the importance of reducing single-use items. Many of us make an effort each day to reduce our waste and prevent litter. 

We’re taking action to cut waste from foam take-out containers, single-use utensils, cups, and plastic bags. To ensure people with disabilities have safe and free access to accessible plastic straws, food vendors will be required to stock accessible straws and provide them, without question, to customers upon request. 

A public awareness campaign and toolkit for businesses will be launched in 2020. 

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, plastic straws, and plastic shopping bags 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 $500 per offence.

More information on the by-laws 

A public education and outreach campaign begins in November 2019, supporting the public, food vendors, and suppliers in the transition away from foam cups and foam take-out containers.

Toolkits for businesses and a public awareness, education, and outreach campaign will launch in early 2020. Sign up for updates on this at the bottom of this page.

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.

Myth busting

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