Here's why your drinks are more expensive on UBC Campus

May 24 2023, 7:03 pm

If you’ve picked up a coffee from your local cafe and noticed you’re still being charged a cup fee, you haven’t been bamboozled.

Daily Hive got word from UBC students and staff that they were “still” being charged a $0.25 cup fee on campus. Turns out, it’s got nothing to do with the recently repealed fee in the City of Vancouver. In fact, UBC’s not even within the city’s jurisdiction for bylaws like these.

Right now, if you get a drink from Tim Hortons on the UBC campus, it could cost you more than it would if you had gotten the drink in the city on your way to campus, and here’s why:

Understanding the cup fee

Back on January 1, 2022, the City of Vancouver brought in bylaws that compelled businesses to charge a minimum fee of $0.25 for each single-use beverage cup distributed.

Then, about a year and a half later on May 1, 2023, it was rolled back. Now, businesses in the City of Vancouver are no longer required to:

  • Charge a minimum $0.25 fee on single-use beverage cups
  • Report the number of single-use beverage cups when renewing their business licence
  • Accept customers’ clean reusable cups for drinks ordered in-store, per the City

While people are still encouraged to bring their own cups or ask for a reusable mug if they’re having their drink in the store, Vancouverites are now saving $0.25 at the till these days.

Can businesses in Vancouver legally charge the cup fee?

In the City of Vancouver, the cup bylaw was repealed on May 1, 2023. However, businesses can still charge a single-use cup fee if they want, as they are not prohibited from doing so.

“If a business in Vancouver voluntarily charges a single-use cup fee after the cup by-law was repealed on May 1, 2023, they would keep the revenue,” said the City.

Why is UBC still charging a $0.25 cup fee?

UBC is a special case, however. “Businesses at UBC’s campus on the University Endowment Lands are outside the City of Vancouver’s jurisdiction and not subject to our by-laws,” clarified the City.

According to UBC’s Zero Waste Food Ware Strategy, which encourages the use of reusable food and beverage containers via fees on single-use items, its new guidelines were brought in back in January 2020. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic began, disrupting food and beverage operations on the UBC Vancouver campus, thus putting the program on pause.

“Although the City voted to repeal their 25 cent cup fee as of May 1, 2023, UBC continues to follow its own policies outlined in the Zero Waste Food Ware Strategy,” reads the webpage detailing the strategy.

According to the updated 2023 strategy, folks will have to pay $0.25 for single-use hot and cold beverage containers, a minimum fee of $0.50 for single-use food containers like clamshells and bowls, and a minimum fee of $0.25 per single-use bag.

UBC did not respond to Daily Hive’s requests to learn more about the single-use cup fee.

Have you checked your coffee receipts lately?

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