Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Single-Use Items Bans Coming Down the Pipeline

Overflowing garbage can

At the latest Zero Waste Committee meeting, Metro Vancouver Regional District staff provided an overview of single-use item restriction regulations from federal, provincial, and local governments.

The problem with many single-use items, especially those used out of home, is that they turn into litter on our streets, parks, and natural areas. Worse, they get into our oceans and waterways, breaking down into microplastics that enter our food system. Litter has an economic cost, including cleanup costs borne by local governments.

The federal government recently banned the manufacturing and importing of the following plastic items starting on December 20, 2022: checkout bags, cutlery, stir sticks, straight straws, flexible straws packaged with beverage containers, and ring carriers. The federal government also banned foam takeout containers. Businesses can use up existing stocks until December 20, 2023, when the federal government will ban the distribution of these single-use items.

The provincial government previously allowed local governments to regulate the sales and uses of checkout bags, drinking straws, foam takeout containers, utensils, and stir sticks. Federal regulation effectively eliminates the need for local government to regulate those single-use items.

The provincial government released an “intentions paper” on single-use items, which includes a proposed list of items they are considering banning.

In addition to what the federal government has already banned, the provincial government is proposing to ban starting in 2024:

  • All containers, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, film wrap, and cups made from polystyrene foam, PVC or compostable plastic.
  • All packaging made from oxo-degradable plastic, including oxo-degradable bin liners, dog waste bags and clothing packaging.

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