Reminder: Foam container ban in Vancouver begins Wednesday

Dec 29 2019, 2:30 pm

Beginning January 1, 2020, businesses across the City of Vancouver will be banned from serving prepared food and drink in polystyrene foam take-out containers and cups.

These new restrictions were initially scheduled to begin in June 2019, but these first enactments to the zero-waste strategy were postponed to allow more time to educate businesses, allowing them to find allowable packaging suppliers.

When implemented, Vancouver will effectively join 100 other cities in North America in banning single-use foam containers.

Then on January 1, 2021, there will be a minimum fee of $0.25 for every disposable cup used, with businesses required to display the cost of disposable cups wherever customers place orders for drinks.

A series of other restrictions on single-use items will come into play over the coming year, with some exceptions provided to hospitals and community care facilities, and charitable food providers.

Single-use utensils and plastic straws

The zero-waste strategy will also come into effect on single-use utensils and plastic straws on April 22, 2020, when businesses will not be able to automatically include spoons, forks, knifes, and chopsticks in a customer’s order. Such utensils can only be provided upon a customer’s request or through the use of self-serve stations.

Plastic straws will also be banned, except for straws attached to drink boxes or drink pouches, and packages of at least 20 straws sold for personal use. Bubble tea businesses will be provided with a one-year temporary exemption to allow them with further time to find alternatives.

But businesses will be required to have a supply of accessible plastic draws — bendable plastic straws wrapped in paper — and provide them to customers, without question, upon request.

Across all of Metro Vancouver, it is estimated about 330 million disposable utensils were thrown in the garbage in 2018. Two thirds of these items were chopstick.

As well, the City of Vancouver estimates between 24 million and 30 million plastic straws are thrown into the garbage each year, not including plastic draws littered to the natural environment. Plastic straws and stir sticks account for about 3% of shoreline litter in the city.

Plastic bags

On January 1, 2021, businesses will be banned from providing plastic.

For the allowable alternatives when the plastic bag ban is enacted, minimum fees will apply for $0.15 for paper shopping bags and $1.00 for reusable shopping bags.

In 2022, these minimum fees will be increased to $0.25 per paper shopping bag and $2.00 per reusable shopping bag.

With files from Vincent Plana and Eric Zimmer.