British Columbia

Plastic straws and plastic bags are on the way out in Vancouver

Vancouver city council has given the OK for a ban on plastic straws and plastic shopping bags, to be phased in starting in April.

City council approves ban on single-use straws from April 2020, plastic bags from Jan. 1, 2021

The Vancouver bylaw banning plastic shopping bags would come into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. (Guillaume Aubut/CBC)

Vancouver city council has voted to phase in a ban on plastic straws and plastic shopping bags.

The Wednesday night vote came after a staff report was presented to council recommending new rules for single-use items, including cups and utensils.

Plastic straws will be banned starting in April. 

A bylaw banning plastic shopping bags would come into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

City manager Sadhu Johnston reminded council about the amount of waste even one type of single-use item creates per year.

"There's 25 [million] to 30 million plastic straws disposed of every year in the city," he said Wednesday. "It's a major amount of waste and a lot of it, as you know, ends up in the streets, gutters."

Paper bags, cups available for charge

After the plastic bag ban is enabled, businesses will be allowed to offer paper bags for 15 cents each for the first year, before it increases to 25 cents a bag.

There will also be a 25-cent charge for disposable coffee cups.

A couple of exemptions have been built into the plastic straw ban:

  • Businesses must provide bendable straws upon request, to accommodate people with disabilities.
  • There is a one-year exemption for wider straws served with bubble tea to allow businesses time to find alternatives.

Come April, businesses will also be required to only provide single-use utensils when requested.

Not everyone agrees with the city's move.

Greg Wilson with the Retail Council of Canada argued there will be extra costs to small businesses.

"These bylaw amendments confer an advantage on big business," said Wilson.

"I represent both big and small business, but I feel very safe in saying that they confer a significant advantage on big business that should be unacceptable to council."

City staff are expected to launch outreach campaigns in the future to raise public awareness about the bylaws.

With files from Meera Bains

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