Recommended changes slated to come into effect in 2020
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
With the goal of reducing the environmental impact of single-use items, a City of Vancouver committee recommended that council ban plastic straws and plastic shopping bags, effective on Earth Day (April 22) 2020.
The proposed by-law would essentially eliminate both plastic and compostable straws but require retailers to provide bendable plastic accessible straws on request. Additionally, the by-law would exempt bubble tea establishments from the by-law for one year, as these retailers search for alternatives to a product central to their core business. Plastic straws will still be given out, but only if a customer requests it.
The committee’s report also recommends tighter regulations decreasing customer’s access to other single-use items, such as disposable cups, single-use utensils, and shopping bags. The regulations aspire to change both consumers’ and business operator’s behaviours.
The report suggests that businesses charge 25 cents at minimum for a disposable cup, and 15 cents for a paper bag.
The recommend by-law to reduce single-use items stems from a larger long-term strategic vision for the City of Vancouver called “Zero Waste 2040.” Zero Waste 2040 aims to make investments and create legislation that help the City eliminate all waste in two decades.
Zero Waste 2040, and the proposed recommendations, align with the Government of Canada’s goal of banning single-use plastic across Canada.
“We’ve all seen the disturbing images of fish, sea turtles, whales, and other wildlife being injured or dying because of plastic garbage in our oceans. Canadians expect us to act. That’s why our government intends to ban harmful single-use plastic products where science warrants it, and why we’re working with partners across Canada and around the world to reduce plastic pollution…,” said The Honourable Catherine McKenna, former Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Currently, either city that Douglas College is based in bans single-use plastic straws or plastic bags. The City of New Westminster council requested that a committee explore the consequences of implementing a plastic bag and plastic straw ban; however, they halted the request to wait on guidance from the province on the issue.
Two years ago Victoria, BC banned plastic bags within city limits, only to have the British Columbia Court of Appeal unanimously rule that banning plastic bags fell outside the municipality’s jurisdiction.
Although nine other municipalities in British Columbia have made strides to ban plastic bags, the BC Court of Appeal decision likely impacts these bans, and may impact the City of Vancouver’s move to do the same.