Sweeping changes to the materials of single-use within Richmond will go into effect starting on March 27, 2022.
At a recent public meeting, Richmond City Council approved a bylaw that bans all businesses from using foam food takeout containers, plastic straws, and plastic shopping bags.
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“It is crucial that we address single-use plastics as a significant cause of environmental damage in our oceans, local waterways and other natural areas by reducing this type of unnecessary waste as we support a more sustainable, circular economy,” said Malcolm Brodie, mayor of Richmond, in a statement.
“Richmond is a recognized leader in sustainability, and we look forward to working with our local businesses and consumers to transition away from single-use plastics to more acceptable alternatives.”
While the ban comes into effect in late March 2022, providing businesses with a six-month period to transition to greener alternatives, the actual enforcement of the bylaw will start in September 2022.
The ban also applies to greener plastic alternatives deemed to be biodegradable.
According to the bylaw, the fines upon conviction for each non-compliance offence start at $1,000 and reach up to $10,000, in addition to the costs of prosecution. Each day that the offence is continued is considered a separate offence.
The municipal government estimates about 35 million foam food takeout containers, plastic straws, and plastic checkout bags are collected in Richmond’s garbage annually. A ban on these items would remove much of the 660 tonnes that go to landfills each year.
In July 2021, the provincial government made a decision that provided municipal governments with the ability to enact bans on plastic single-use items without final provincial approval.
Richmond’s policy aligns with similar restrictions enacted by other municipal governments in the region, including the City of Vancouver, as well as changing policies on the provincial and federal levels.
Vancouver’s upcoming policies are particularly stringent. On January 1, 2022, there will be a ban on plastic shopping bags, and a new minimum fee of $0.15 for paper shopping bags, with the rate increasing to $0.25 in 2023. Reusable shopping bags will also have a minimum fee of $1 each, growing to $2.00 in 2023.
Also starting next year is a minimum fee of $0.25 for each single-use beverage cup distributed by businesses in Vancouver.