Saying “goodbye” to single-use cups and plastic shopping bags will lead to a more sustainable future
(This story is sponsored by the City of Vancouver.)
By now, most Vancouverites have noticed the City’s two new bylaws for single-use cups and shopping bags are in effect. Hopefully, bringing your reusable shopping bags and cup each time you leave the house is becoming second nature.
As of January 1, 2022, businesses are required to charge a minimum of $0.25 on single-use beverage cups and stop offering plastic bags. Grocery stores and other shops must also charge minimum fees on paper ($0.15) and new reusable bags ($1.00).
These two bylaws are important actions in the City’s strategy to reduce waste from single-use items, decreasing the amount of garbage that’s tossed into the landfill.
Upon implementing the bylaws, the City encountered a few challenges and concerns raised by the public. But since the single-use cup bylaw was the first of its kind in Canada, a temporary adjustment period for businesses and shoppers was expected.
The public voiced concerns about the impact of the bylaw on folks disproportionately affected by income inequality. Many people also found some businesses charged cup fees without offering reusable alternatives.
In response to these concerns, the City changed the bylaw so businesses can immediately provide free drinks—like complimentary water and coffee—in single-use cups without charging a fee. Businesses must also accept customers’ clean reusable cups for drinks ordered in-store starting July 1.
At the beginning of the pandemic, some restaurants and cafés stopped accepting reusable cups in an effort to keep employees and customers safe. But since June 2020, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) have stated food vendors can resume accepting clean reusable cups during the pandemic. The City has worked with VCH to develop “contactless cup” procedures to safely serve drinks in reusable cups.
Since the two bylaws came into effect, more businesses are launching reusable cup-borrowing programs. Another 75 to 100 locations are expected to begin offering cup-borrowing in the next six months.
Because habits can be difficult to change, the City encourages people to have their reusable bags and cups readily available. Consider keeping your eco-friendly mug on the shelf beside your door and a few shopping bags in the trunk of your car.
And remember—make sure your reusable cups are clean on the inside and outside so food vendors can accept them.
By keeping single-use items out of our landfill, Vancouver residents and businesses will protect the environment and help Vancouver become a zero-waste city.
For more information on the new bylaws, visit vancouver.ca/single-use