British Columbia

'It's going to be tough': Businesses welcome plastic ban despite challenges

The Trudeau government's announcement that it would try to ban single-use plastics by 2021 has some small business owners stepping up to the challenge, despite some concerns.

Many local businesses have been searching for alternatives in anticipation of an eventual ban

Serving bubble tea without using single-use plastic products poses particular challenges. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Trudeau government's announcement that it would ban single-use plastics by 2021 has some small business owners stepping up to the challenge despite some concerns about how it might affect their operations.

A full list of banned items isn't set in stone, but could include items like cotton swabs, drink stirrers, plates and balloon sticks.

Fast-food containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene, which is similar to white Styrofoam, could also be banned.

Ivanna Chan, who owns the Bubble Tea Shop in Vancouver, said that while she foresees the transition for her business could be 'tough,' she welcomes the change.

"It's good for the environment for sure. You see the waste that goes into the food industry," she said.

Serving bubble tea without using single-use plastic products poses particular challenges.

The tea is usually served in a plastic cup and sealed with clear plastic, then slurped through a plastic straw.

The Trudeau government announced plans to ban single-use plastics, like straws, shopping bags and disposable cutlery, as early as 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Chan said that in the past her business has tried paper straws but they often disintegrated too quickly.

She said they will now be looking into sugar cane or rice straws, which are a bit more expensive but can last a couple of hours.

"We'll be putting different pricing in for sure and customers are going to have to pay for it, but I think in general the customers understand," she said.

"Everyone's looking for options because you know in the long term it's eventually going to happen."

Chan's shop also sells reusable tumblers and stainless steel straws, which she said have been quite successful. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Chan's shop also sells reusable tumblers and stainless steel straws, which she said have been quite successful.

"We're in Vancouver, it's so green friendly here, so I think everyone's on board," she said.

In 2018 the City of Vancouver voted to ban single-use plastics by this year. The ban was later postponed until 2020 after the public expressed concern.

In a written statement, George Heyman, B.C.'s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, said the province welcomes the decision from the federal government.

"Reducing plastic waste must be a joint effort by all Canadians and all levels of government," he wrote.

Heyman wrote that some of the major initiatives outlined in the federal announcement are already happening in B.C., and that B.C. is the only province where industry is "100 per cent financially responsible for the collection and recycling of materials introduced into the marketplace."

With files from Lien Yeung

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