Advocacy | British Columbia | Sustainability

Squamish passes shopping bag and straw bylaw

December 19, 2019

The District of Squamish council passed a bylaw concerning shopping bags and (drinking) straws on Tuesday, December 17.  The bylaw takes effect immediately.

Summary of Key Elements

Shopping bags

Checkout bags may only be supplied after a customer is first asked if they need a checkout bag.

Fees are to be charged on shopping bags as follows:

  1. 10 cents per single-use plastic bag, rising to 25 cents in 90 days (expected to be March 16, 2020).
  2. 30 cents per single-use paper bag, rising to 75 cents in 90 days
  3. $1.10 per reusable bag, rising to $2.75 in 90 days

There are exemptions for bags used to:

  1. package loose bulk items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains or candy,
  2. package loose bulk small hardware items such as nuts and bolts,
  3. package frozen foods, meat, poultry or fish, whether pre-packaged or not,
  4. package flowers or potted plants,
  5. package prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged,
  6. transport live fish,
  7. package linens, bedding or similar fabric items if they cannot fit easily in a reusable bag,
  8. package clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning.

There is an exemption for 90 days (again, expected to be March 16, 2020) to package newspapers or other printed material intended to be left at the customer’s residence or place of business.

There is also an exemption for packages of multiple plastic, paper, reusable, biodegradable and compostable bags sold for use at the customer’s home or business, provided that they are prepackaged and sold in packages of multiple bags.

Plastic straws

Businesses are prohibited from distributing single-use plastic straws to a customer.   However, they may supply an accessible plastic straw upon customer request.  Single-use straws, other than plastic or accessible straws, may be supplied only if the customer is first asked if they need a straw.

Packages of plastic straws sold for use in the customer’s home are exempt provided they are sold in packages of straws.

The bylaw provides a definition for “’Accessible Straw’ means a drinking straw made with plastic, excluding biodegradable plastic or compostable plastic, that is designed so that it is bendable and can be positioned at various angles to facilitate drinking, and that is designed or intended for a single-time use.

The District’s bylaw can be found here.

Next Steps:

  1. RCC will advocate for harmonization, operational simplicity and against the aspects of local government bylaws which have significantly negative retail business and consumer impacts.
  2. RCC will continue to work with our partner industry associations to ensure common responses where possible.

To help you find your way through the patchwork of plastic bag bylaws and regulations, RCC has assembled a quick reference table of shopping bag regulations.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Greg Wilson, Director, Government Relations (British Columbia) at [email protected] or 604-736-0368

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