Bubble tea could get 1-year exemption from city's plastic straw ban

Nov 25 2019, 1:48 pm

A report from City of Vancouver staff to council regarding the single-use plastics ban, suggests a one-year exemption for plastic straws served with bubble tea drinks.

According to the report, “businesses that sell bubble tea drinks were among the most dependent on plastic straws and are highly concerned about the impacts to their businesses if they cannot find ways to serve bubble tea that do not require plastic straws.”

The report goes on to note that “many residents consider drinking bubble tea to be part of their cultural identity” and the one-year straw exemption “gives bubble tea businesses additional time to find alternatives.”

There have been some proposed solutions to replace bubble tea straws, including a Vancouver-based Kickstarter’s Boba Straw, which is composed of food-grade stainless steel and silicone, and the Rice Straw made of 100% natural, biodegradable, and compostable materials.

Rice straws

The City of Vancouver bylaw proposes a number of bans on single-use items including plastic and compostable plastic straws by April 22, 2020, and plastic bags, with fees on paper and reusable bags by January 1, 2021.


The City of Vancouver’s upcoming bylaw changes on single-use items (City of Vancouver)

The report also recommends a 25 cent fee to be implemented for disposable cups, a 15 cent fee for paper bags, a $1 charge on reusable bags.

City staff will present the recommendations in the report to council on November 27.