Bubble tea fans in Vancouver may have to sip their favourite beverage through a different kind of straw in about a year from now.
City council has approved “in principle” a ban on plastic straws starting June 1, 2019.
The move was among the measures adopted by council Wednesday (May 16) as part of an effort to cut down on waste and litter.
Council also approved a ban on foam cups and food containers, which will likewise start on June 1, 2019.
According to the city's media release issued minutes after council's vote, Vancouver has become the first city in Canada to ban plastic straws, and foam cups and take-out containers.
A number of speakers related to council concerns from bubble tea shops that many of these businesses have no current alternatives to plastic straws.
There was even a suggestion that bubble tea shops be granted a temporary exemption.
The motion approved by council directs staff to consult with affected businesses and other organizations, and come back with a report by December 31, 2018.
Melissa Donich, who initiated a Drop the Straw petition, addressed council, and said that plastic straws end up in landfills and waterways.
Donich suggested that paper straws, which are biodegradable, are a good alternative.
Glass and stainless straws, which can be washed and re-used, are also identified as possible choices, especially for bars and restaurants.
Council also voted for the issuance of a call to producers of "Made in Vancouver” solutions like a "mug share program", and reusable straws.
A city staff report submitted to council states that about 57 million straws are used in Canada on a daily basis.
Plastic straws and stir sticks constitute about three percent of litter on the city’s shorelines.
Meanwhile, 2.6 million disposable cups are thrown away in the garbage in Vancouver every week.
According to the report, the city spends $2.5 million per year to collect disposable items from waste bins.
The media release states that the city will also work with "small businesses to achieve a targeted reduction in the use of plastic bags and cups".
"If target reduction rates are not achieved by 2021, the City of Vancouver will take further action by enacting a full ban on single-use plastic bags and cups," according to the news release.