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We're foam free

City launches toolkit to help businesses ditch foam take-out containers

As we take strides towards our zero waste 2040 goal, it’s critical to bring businesses along – the toolkits are here to help businesses transition to more sustainable options.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart

November 13 2019 –

Vancouver is going foam free following Council’s approval of the foam ban by-law earlier this year. Starting January 1, 2020, the city-wide ban will mean businesses can no longer serve prepared food or drinks in polystyrene foam cups and foam take-out containers. 

Today, the City is launching toolkits to help businesses find convenient, affordable and recyclable or compostable alternatives to foam. The toolkits are available in English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Punjabi, and Filipino (Tagalog).

A third party public opinion survey found that 86% of Vancouver residents believe it is important to reduce the use of single-use items such as plastic and paper bags, disposable cups and take-out containers.

“Residents have told us loud and clear that they want to reduce waste from single-use items,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “The people of Vancouver expect the City to demonstrate leadership when it comes to environmental initiatives, and the elimination of foam take-out containers is a step in that direction. As we take strides towards our zero waste 2040 goal, it’s critical to bring businesses along – the toolkits are here to help businesses transition to more sustainable options.” 

Get a business toolkit

The business toolkits include: 

  • Packaging guidelines to help businesses find recyclable and compostable alternatives
  • Details on compostable and degradable plastics, which are not accepted in either the City’s Green Bin program or Recycle BC’s residential recycling program
  • Questions for businesses to ask their supplier
  • Customer-focused posters and till toppers to notify of the city-wide ban

Businesses can download or request printed toolkits

Why ban foam cups and take-out containers?

The remnants of foam cups and take out containers are frequently found in shoreline cleanups and as litter on our streets, parks and green spaces. The majority of foam cups and foam take-out containers are sent to landfill. When surveyed, only 6% of Vancouver residents reported that they bring foam to a recycling depot. Foam cups and foam take-out containers can break apart and when this happens in recycling bins, the foam and any other materials around it cannot be recycled properly. 

More action on single-use items coming soon

The ban on foam cups and foam take-out containers is part of a suite of actions being taken by the City to reduce single-use item waste and achieve our zero waste 2040 goal. By-law details for plastic straws, plastic and paper shopping bags, disposable cups and disposable utensils will be presented to Council in late November 2019. 

Approved by Council in June 2018, the Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy is designed to drastically reduce waste, litter and the impact of items such as shopping bags, take-out containers, drink cups, straws and utensils.

Find more information on the strategy