COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update
April 9, 2020: The start dates for the single-use item by-laws for straws, utensils, cups, and shopping bags remain unchanged.
However, we're suspending education, outreach, and enforcement for these by-laws until further notice.
The City's priority is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring essential services continue uninterrupted.
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
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:
Enforcing the rules
If a licensed business is found to be out of compliance with a by-law, there are several actions the City may take.
Initial actions will focus on education, outreach, and support to help your business comply with the by-law requirements.
Following these initial actions, increasing levels of enforcement will be used to address non-compliant operators. Non-compliant license holders may be fined $500 per offence. License holders with repeat offences may be subject to prosecution and face provincial court issued fines of up to $10,000 per offence.
More information and public campaigns
Toolkits for businesses and a public awareness, education, and outreach campaign will launch in early 2020 to support the by-laws for plastic straws, single-use utensils, disposable cups, and shopping bags. Sign up for updates on this at the bottom of this page.
A public education and outreach campaign began in November 2019 to support the public, food vendors, and suppliers in the transition away from foam cups and foam take-out containers.
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.