City proposing bold actions to reduce single-use items including ban on foam cups and containers

March 29 2018 Public invited to comment on Draft Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy

"We’re hearing strong support from businesses, environmental groups, and the general public who want to take action to reduce litter and the plastic garbage that’s polluting our oceans, and help us reach our zero waste goals.”

Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy graphic

Over the last year, the City has worked with residents and businesses to create a made-in-Vancouver strategy for reducing the use of single–use items. The results of consultation have been put into a strategy which includes bold action to reduce use of plastic and paper bags, disposable cups, and plastic straws, and includes a recommendation to ban foam cups and containers. The draft strategy is now available for review in a final round of consultation starting today. 

“I’m pleased to see the City taking another big step towards our Greenest City goals with actions to cut down waste from single-use items,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver and cities around the world are struggling with litter and waste from disposable items like plastic bags and straws, coffee cups and polystyrene foam containers. We’re hearing strong support from businesses, environmental groups, and the general public who want to take action to reduce litter and the plastic garbage that’s polluting our oceans, and help us reach our zero waste goals.”

Every week, 2.6 million disposable cups and 2 million plastic bags are thrown in the garbage in Vancouver. Cups and take-out containers make up about 50% of all items collected in public waste bins and a significant portion of litter on Vancouver streets. Despite their convenience, it costs Vancouver taxpayers $2.5 million a year to collect these items from public waste bins and to clean up as litter. 

Priority actions

Priority actions outlined in the draft strategy include:

  • Introduce reduction plans for disposable cups and plastic/paper shopping bags, with a suite of choices for businesses such as: 
    • No disposable cups or plastic/paper shopping bags to be distributed
    • Disposable cups or plastic/paper shopping bags cannot be distributed for free 
    • Other mechanisms that will be proposed and finalized through consultation
  • Introduce a ban on the distribution of polystyrene foam cups and containers
  • Introduce a requirement for food vendors to ask if customers would like a straw
  • Introduce a requirement for single-use cups and containers to be recyclable or compostable
  • Investigate options for recovering the cost of collecting single-use items 

In addition to recommending actions on reducing single-use items, the draft strategy has also been designed to provide flexibility and choice for businesses in order to make the transition manageable, and proposes a number of secondary actions that focus on education and outreach. It also recommends support for moving toward greater standardization of waste reduction policies, such as providing support for Metro Vancouver’s work to develop a Regional Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy.

How to provide feedback

Feedback on the draft strategy will be accepted until April 13, 2018.

Attend an open house event 

Residents are invited to join project staff and subject matter experts at a public open house event to learn more about single-use item waste in Vancouver and to provide feedback on the actions proposed in the draft strategy. 

Location: 511 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Date: April 10, 2018 (6pm – 8:30pm)          

Attend a small business consultation meeting

Owners of small businesses that distribute single-use items are invited to attend a consultation meeting to discuss the draft strategy with City staff. Translation services will be available upon request.

Location: 511 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC 
Dates: April 11, 2018: 9am - 10:30 am and 6pm - 8:30pm

Register: Call 3-1-1 to register in English, or (604) 829-9500 if you require translation. Registrations are due by April 9, 2018. Presentations will be given in English so please indicate on the call if you require translation services at the meeting.

Provide feedback online 

Residents who are unable to attend the open house event, can review the draft strategy online and provide feedback through an online comment form. 

The feedback received from this round of consultation will help to inform the Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy which is expected to be presented to Council on May 16, 2018. 

View the draft strategy