City of Vancouver's plastic bag ban and disposable cup fees to begin in 2022

Dec 10 2020, 11:07 am

The next measures that will further restrict single-use items within the City of Vancouver will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Vancouver City Council approved on Wednesday a revised start date for the previously approved ban on plastic shopping bags and the new fees that will be in place for disposable beverage cups. These measures were originally scheduled to begin at the start of 2021, but they have been pushed one year to provide struggling businesses with more time to prepare for the costly changes to their operations.

The ban on plastic shopping bangs is also compounded by a minimum fee of $0.15 for paper shopping bags, with the rate increasing to $0.25 in 2023. Paper shopping bags must be labelled “recyclable” and “made of 40% recycled content.”

There will also be a minimum fee of $1.00 for reusable shopping bags, with this fee growing to $2.00 in 2023.

For each single-use beverage cup distributed, a minimum fee of $0.25 must be charged.

As part of the city’s business license changes, businesses within Vancouver will be required to keep track of the number of paper shopping bags, reusable shopping bags, and single-use beverage cups distributed over every 12-month period.

“The by-laws are geared towards the food and retail sectors, which are experiencing significant economic strain due to the pandemic. Retailers and restaurants in the city are concerned about their ability [to] survive this coming winter with the current second wave of COVID-19. Reduced revenues and increased costs related to complying with COVID-19 health requirements are making it difficult to cover basic operating costs,” reads the city staff report’s recommendation explaining the rationale for delaying the policies.

“In many cases, operations are reduced to a bare minimum, and all efforts are directed towards keeping the business going while adapting to the pandemic and recent enhanced Provincial restrictions. The extra single-use items by-law requirements, while important, are a secondary priority.”

This adds to the municipal government’s other already-enacted policies on single-use items, including the ban on foam cups and foam takeout containers that began on January 1, 2020, and the ban on plastic beverage straws that began on April 22, 2020 (bubble tea shops are required to begin this ban on April 22, 2021).

There are also other policies on mandating biodegradable (paper) straws and providing single-use items only by request.

Some of these changes are coming with or without the City of Vancouver’s policies. Earlier this fall, the federal government announced plastic straws, cutlery, bags, and other single-use plastic items will be banned in Canada by the end of 2021.

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