Single-Use Plastic Ban
Single-Use Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is being banned?
The following items will be banned effective March 27, 2022 under Bylaw 10000:
- Plastic checkout bags
- Plastic straws; and
- Foam (polystyrene) food service ware for prepared food (such as foam plates, clamshell containers, bowls and cups)
The ban on plastic checkout bags and plastic straws includes:
- Compostable plastics
- Biodegradable plastics
It is recognized that there are some exceptions that must be accommodated within the proposed bylaw to address health and safety considerations, accessibility and bulk purchasing of these items. For a complete list of exemptions please refer to the Single-Use Bylaw page.
2.Who does Bylaw 10000 apply to?
The bylaw applies to all business license holders in the community – specifically any person, organization, or group engaged in a trade, business, profession, occupation, calling, employment or purpose that is regulated under the City's Business Licence Bylaw No. 7360 and includes a person employed by, or operating on behalf of, a business.
3. What is the projected timeline for Bylaw 10000's
- Bylaw 10000 adopted by Council: September 27, 2021
- Bylaw 10000 is effective: March 27, 2022
- Bylaw 10000 is enforced: September 27, 2022
- Charitable Organizations exemption expires: March 27, 2023
4. Is it really necessary to implement Bylaw 10000?
Even if the containers are recyclable, customers may
end up throwing them into the garbage bin.
In Richmond, it is estimated that more than 35 million plastic checkout bags, plastic straws and foam cups and containers are disposed of in the garbage each year. Also, plastic waste can make its way into the environment and cause significant damage to the ecology, pose a significant threat to wildlife and potentially contaminate the food chain. The goal of Bylaw 10000 is to encourage the reduction of unnecessary single-use items and move towards a more circular economy. An economy where the materials we use stay in circulation to be used, reused and recycled multiple times into new products.
5. How will Bylaw 10000 by enforced?
The City will begin enforcement by continuing education and working with businesses to support their compliance efforts. This will be a staged approach to ensure that businesses have all the information and resources necessary to successfully comply. Penalties will be laid only once sufficient education and notice has been issued to the business in non-compliance.
6. Will biodegradable plastic or compostable plastic
alternatives be permitted under Bylaw 10000?
No. Compostable/biodegradable plastic are not allowed as they are not accepted in the City’s Green Cart Program or recycling streams under Recycle BC, nor are they guaranteed to biodegrade if littered or sent to local industrial compost facilities. This is because standards and certifications are not required or aligned with the processing requirements for existing infrastructure that are designed to compost food scraps and yard waste in the region.
7. Is a bag fee required, and does the business get
to keep the revenue from bag fees?
The City is not requiring businesses to charge for alternative products at this time (i.e. paper or reusable bags). If a business would like to implement fees, it will be at the businesses own discretion.
8. If customers request plastic straws, can we
No, plastic straws are banned for general use. However, if the person indicates that the straw is needed due to a disability or other accessibility need, a straw can be provided. Please note that a business cannot ask for proof of disability or inquire further details.
9. Are reusable grocery bags, containers and cups
safe to use during COVID-19?
Yes. The BCCDC has confirmed COVID-19 transmission from handling reusable items has not been documented and as such, is a low risk to the community. The use of reusable items, such as grocery bags, coffee mugs, and containers for takeaway are permitted. BC Public Health supports the use of reusable containers as they reduce garbage and improve environmental health. See the guidelines for reusable containers, to learn more about proper control measures. The guidance includes procedures for reusable containers provided by the food premises and customer-supplied containers. For more information please visit the BCCDC website.
10. What should I use to pick up after my pet now?
In some dog-friendly parks, plastic bags are available to scoop animal waste. These bags are not affected by the ban. You can also purchase these from most pet stores or general/grocery stores.
11. What should I use as a trash bin liner now?
If you are using a plastic or metal trash bin you could reduce your environmental impact by not using a liner, dumping into a large garbage bag in your cart and washing out the trash bin once emptied. Alternatively, stores will still be able to sell trash bin liners and garbage bags.
12. Can I reuse old single-use plastic bags that
I have at home?
Yes, the ban only applies to new and unused bags. You are welcome to reuse old bags that you may have at home, including bringing them into the store to put your purchases in.
13. What are single-use plastic and other items?
Single-use items – such as checkout bags, straws, utensils and take-out containers – are items that are intended to be used only briefly before they are thrown away or recycled. While many of these items can serve valuable functions—such as food waste reduction, storage, or transportation—in some situations, they can be avoided or replaced with reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives. As a community, we need to rethink the amount of waste we are generating and work together to incorporate small changes – such as reducing single-use items— to work towards a more circular economy. It is important to note that in some cases, single use items may be necessary for disability and accessibility needs and for health and safety considerations.
14. What is the circular economy?
The circular economy is an industrial system that looks to transform the current “take-make-dispose” process of consumption into "repurpose-renew-regenerate." The circular economy model aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
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