Revised dates approved for ban on plastic straws and foam
Extensions balance momentum for bold action, commitment to enhanced accessibility and businesses need for more time
Waste from single-use items, such as cups and take-out containers, make up about 50% of all items collected in public waste bins and are a significant portion of the litter found on Vancouver streets.
Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering Services
Yesterday, Council confirmed their unwavering commitment to boldly reduce single-use items through a strategy that shifts societal norms, supports lasting behaviour change, and values all members of Vancouver’s diverse communities – regardless of physical ability.
“We’ve approved an extension on the start dates for the ban on the unnecessary use of plastic straws, foam cups, and foam take-out containers so that staff can continue to work with stakeholders, especially small businesses, to find affordable, convenient and accessible alternatives,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “We are committed to working with residents, businesses, non-profits and other levels of government to create lasting change that brings us closer to our goal of becoming a zero waste community by 2040, and in this case, it means providing stakeholders with a bit more time to adjust their business practices.”
Bans to begin in 2020
The ban on foam cups and foam take-out containers will begin January 1, 2020. The ban on the unnecessary use of plastic straws will begin April 2020, with further details on by-law requirements, including phasing as well as exemptions for health care needs and accessibility, presented to Council no later than November 30, 2019.
Ultimately, the strategy intends to reduce waste by banning the unnecessary use of plastic straws, however, over the next few months, staff will continue working with individuals who rely on straws for accessibility and inclusion to properly structure our by-law requirements in a way that will not negatively affect people who rely on plastic straws and aligns with the City’s Accessibility Strategy. For example, the City is currently consulting on a requirement for businesses to provide a bendable plastic straw upon request when needed for accessibility, while otherwise eliminating the use of other straws.
Recommendation for provincial standards
Council has approved staff’s recommendation to forward a resolution to the 2019 Union of BC Municipalities Convention requesting that the province develop standards for compostable single-use items, to ensure that they:
- Are designed to fully biodegrade if littered in the natural environment
- Align with provincial composting infrastructure
- Are collected and managed through an extended producer responsibility program that covers materials from the residential, public realm and commercial sectors
“Waste from single-use items, such as cups and take-out containers, make up about 50% of all items collected in public waste bins and are a significant portion of the litter found on Vancouver streets,” said Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering Services. “Given that single-use compostable plastic items are not designed to biodegrade when littered in the natural environment and are not accepted in the City’s Green Bin program, the issue of compostable single-use items is quite complex and needs the involvement of higher levels of government to address needs around regulation and technical details.”
More actions to be announced by November 30
Further actions, such as by-law requirements, enforcement, phasing and education plans, will be announced by November 30, 2019 for plastic and paper shopping bags, disposable cups and single-use utensils following the completion of consultation with stakeholders.
Council approved amendment
Council has directed staff to report back on new options for a plastic bag ban that consider Victoria’s plastic bag ban, and the growing interest among neighbouring municipalities to collaborate on a plastic bag ban.
Council approved by-law requirements
|Single-use item||By-law requirement||Date by-law takes effect|
|Foam cups and take-out containers||Ban: applicable to business licence holders.
Temporary exemptions for charitable food providers.
|January 1, 2020
|Plastic straws||Ban: on the unnecessary use of plastic straws, while requiring bendable plastic straws to be available upon request for accessibility||April 2020
By-law will be presented to Council no later than November 30, 2019 for adoption with further details on phasing, as well as exemptions for health care needs and accessibility.
|Plastic and paper shopping bags||Further details on the by-law requirements for these items will be presented to Council no later than November 30, 2019.||To be determined|
|Disposable cups||Further details on the by-law requirements for these items will be presented to Council no later than November 30, 2019.||To be determined|
|Single-use utensils||Further details on the by-law requirements for these items will be presented to Council no later than November 30, 2019.||To be determined|
Support for the transition
In fall 2019, the City plans to launch a public awareness, education, and outreach campaign to support the general public, food vendors, and suppliers in the transition away from foam cups and foam take-out containers. Further details and updates will be provided in the coming months.