Starting on New Year’s Day, Vancouverites are being forced by their municipal government to change their habits when it comes to using plastic bags and single-use cups.
The City of Vancouver’s new wave of single-use item policies will come into effect on January 1, 2022.
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All businesses, including retailers and restaurants, will no longer be able to provide customers with single-use plastic shopping bags.
While businesses will be able to offer customers with alternatives to plastic shopping bags, they are required to charge minimum fees of $0.15 for a paper shopping bag, and $1.00 for a new reusable shopping bag.
Coffee and tea drinks, mainly consumed with single-use cups, will also cost more. The municipal government is requiring businesses to charge a minimum fee of $0.25 for each single-use cup. The policy is intended to encourage customers to bring a reusable cup, with the city asserting this can be a safe practice during the pandemic.
However, the various new fees are not a new tax; the municipal government is providing businesses with the ability to keep the revenues to cover the cost of required software updates and staff training to meet their new annual reporting requirement on the number of single-use items they provide to customers, which is now part of the business license renewal process each year. This is also intended to allow businesses to invest in reusable alternatives.
These new policies were originally scheduled to go into effect at the start of 2021, but they were delayed due to the impacts to local businesses from COVID-19.
In 2020, the municipal government put in place new policies that limit single-use items for plastic straws, utensils, and styrofoam containers.
The municipal government claims over 82 million single-use cups and 89 million plastic shopping bags were thrown in the garbage in Vancouver in 2018. According to the city, the collection of single-use items from city-operated garbage bins and the pick-up of litter from streets and public spaces costs the municipal government about $2.5 million annually.