Richmond takes lead to ban single-use plastics
24 July 2019
The City of Richmond is one step closer to implementing a bylaw to ban single-use plastics within the community.
Richmond City Council passed the first three readings of Single-Use Plastic and Other Items Bylaw No.10000 on Monday, July 22nd that would ban items such as plastic checkout bags and straws as well as foam food service ware including plates, clamshell containers, bowls and cups as a critical step toward protecting our environment.
“Avoiding single-use plastic items is the right thing to do, not just for our community but for the environment as a whole,” says Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “While this bylaw will create challenges for some businesses, Council feels it’s important to take a leadership role to stop the use of single-use items that create completely unnecessary waste and pollution. That’s why we will work with business in the coming months to determine how the City can best support them through the transition.”
The proposed bylaw will now be sent to the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for approval. In the meantime, the City will proceed with a comprehensive community engagement campaign with businesses, health and social service providers, and Richmond residents affected by it.
The proposed ban would affect all business license holders in the community – specifically those who currently use plastic checkout bags such as retail shopping or grocery bags, as well as those who use plastic straws or sell or provide food using foam containers.
The bylaw includes some exemptions, including health and social service organizations. In addition, registered charities will be given 18 months from adoption of the bylaw to use up their inventory before the ban applies to them, while businesses will have six months to use their existing stock before being subject to it. As well, the bylaw provides exemptions for specific listed uses of plastic bags, plastic straws when required for accessibility purposes, and the sale of plastic straws and foam containers when sold in packages of multiple items.
With the first three readings of Bylaw 10000 now complete, the City will work with businesses to advise them about the proposed bylaw and invite their participation in workshops to discuss options on how to transition to better alternatives such as paper compostable materials and re-usable products.
The City will also ask businesses to identify what type of customer communication would assist them, and what information should be included in a toolkit to support successful implementation of the ban. In addition, Richmond residents will be given an opportunity to ask questions and share feedback on the bylaw.
Awareness about the need to shift from single-use to a circular economy is growing across Canada and globally. It is a more sustainable approach because it reduces reliance on new raw materials and reduces waste going to landfills. Items like plastic bags and straws are made from low-grade materials that cannot be successfully recycled compared to higher-grade plastics and materials that can be re-used multiple times.
“We have a lot of excellent recycling programs, which is important, but it’s equally critical to reduce our waste and support a circular economy where the materials we have stay in circulation to be used, re-used and recycled multiple times into new products,” adds Brodie. “We want Richmond to be out in front, leading our community and others towards better ways to manage and reduce waste.”
In addition to the communication and engagement planned within the community, Richmond staff will also be reaching out to other levels of government to advocate for broader measures that will result in consistent standards and policies related to banning single-use plastics and other items.