Vancouver city council has approved a ban on plastic straws, foam containers, and other single-use items.
Anyone with a Vancouver business licence will no longer be able to provide single-use plastic items to their customers, starting in June 2019.
The move comes as part of Vancouver’s Zero Waste 2040 strategy, which aims to eliminate all waste in the city.
“This problem is decades in the making,” said Zero Waste project manager Monica Kosmack. “The cheap fast and easy sense of freedom [enabled by single-use items] is at the heart of the grab-and-go culture.”
A staff report found that 2.6 million disposable cups and two million plastic bags are thrown out into city garbage bins each week. Cups and takeout containers alone make up half the trash in city garbage bins.
Neither straws nor polystyrene cups and containers can be collected in curbside multifamily containers, “so foam is littered or is disposed of in the landfill,” said Kosmack.
“We’ve heard from the public that the time is now and 86 per cent of Vancouver residents are in favour of a ban.”
Another 82 per cent, she added, are willing to pay more for takeout containers if they were more sustainable.
Coun. Elizabeth Ball asked staff to make sure there were exceptions for those who still needed straws, like the sick and disabled.
Affordability was a concern for Coun. Melissa De Genova.
“Not everyone can afford to be as green as they want to be,” De Genova said.
Albert Shamess, director of waste management and resource recovery said the city was working on cutting costs for businesses.
“The city is working with [businesses] to develop a broad-based procurement approach for bulk costs,” Shamess said.
“But the approach we’re trying to take for this product is that it’s business responsibility to take care of it. Picking up litter is costing us a lot of money.”