Vancouver Will Ban Plastic Straws, Foam Cups and Containers Next Year

Canada’s greenest city is about to get even greener.

Vancouver City Council voted yesterday to ban the distribution of plastic straws and foam take-out containers and cups starting in June 2019. The initiative is part of the city’s Zero Waste 2040 strategy.

Council also introduced a bylaw to cut back on the number of disposable cups, as well as plastic and paper shopping bags, handed out to shoppers. Businesses must abide by the following conditions:

  • – No distribution of disposable cups or plastic/paper shopping bags at all.
  • – Charging an extra fee for disposable cups or plastic/paper shopping bags.
  • – Other solutions that will be proposed and finalized through consultation.

If the measures above don’t lead to a reduction in disposable cups and plastic and paper shopping bags by 2021, the city will move forward with an outright ban.

Many small businesses will be concerned about how they can transition to more sustainable materials in a cost-effective way. Vancouver says it will educate and support businesses in using environmentally-friendly packaging materials between now and next June. One idea is to implement a travel mug and take-out container exchange program that allows people to put a deposit on reusable cups that can be returned at locations throughout the city after use.

“Cities around the world recognize the detrimental impacts of plastic waste on our environment and are taking bold steps to cut down or eliminate waste through bans and innovative reusable programs,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement.

“In Vancouver, we’re hearing strong support from local businesses, environmental groups and the general public and I’m confident that this comprehensive strategy will help us become a clean, zero-waste city.”

Vancouver garbage bins are burdened by around 2.6 million plastic-lined paper cups and two million plastic bags every week. In announcing Zero Waste 2040, the City said it is “first city in the world to approve a comprehensive zero waste strategic plan.”