Vancouver’s ban on plastic straws likely delayed until 2020

City staff to provide update on single-use item reduction strategy next week

Businesses that give out plastic straws, foam cups and foam takeout containers might get a bit of a reprieve before Vancouver implements its bans on those items.

City staff will update council next Wednesday on the implementation of the city’s single-use item reduction strategy. Staff also plan to request new start dates for the bans — Jan. 1, 2020 for the ban on foam cups and takeout containers, and April 2020 for the ban on the unnecessary use of plastic straws.

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The bans were initially scheduled to go into effect June 1.

Project manager Monica Kosmak told the Courier that the request to extend the start dates of the bans is in response to feedback from local small businesses owners and operators who have “indicated that the most meaningful support the city can provide is enough time for businesses to find convenient, affordable and accessible alternatives.”

She added staff is working with people who rely on straws to be able to consume beverages to ensure that the ban will not decrease accessibility. Kosmak said staff is working on bylaw amendments that would require businesses to provide a bendable plastic straw when requested by a customer for accessibility reasons.

The single-use item reduction strategy was first introduced in June 2017 and, after consultation with businesses and the public, it was adopted by council in June 2018 as part of the Zero Waste 2040 Strategic Plan.

“As much as possible, the strategy is designed to support convenient, affordable and accessible alternatives, shift societal norms, support lasting behaviour change, and value all members of Vancouver’s diverse communities,” the staff report states. “The strategy strives to meet the needs of everyone, regardless of physical ability.”

In the fall, the city plans to launch a public awareness, education and outreach campaign to support the general public, food vendors and suppliers in the transition away from foam cups and takeout containers; and bylaw requirements, enforcement and education plans will be announced by November for plastic and paper shopping bags, disposable cups and single-use utensils.

At next week’s meeting, staff also plan to recommend that council forward two resolutions to the 2019 Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention requesting the provincial government to adopt a comprehensive province-wide plan to reduce the use of single-use items that aligns with federal goals for reducing plastic waste, and develop standards for compostable single-use items to ensure that they are fully compostable and align with B.C. composting infrastructure.

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