British Columbia | Plastics and Alternatives | Sustainability

BC single-use bylaw updates

February 24, 2021

Post updated as of August 11, 2021

RCC has a Plastics Committee to which updates on single-use bag (cup, straw and utensil) bylaws are posted.  BC has had an amount of recent activity by local governments enacting bylaws. 

On July 27, 2021, B.C.’s Environment Minister issued a ministerial order under the Community Charter (local-government enabling legislation) to govern the implementation of local single-use bylaws. RCC has expressed significant concern about:

  • short implementation time-frames (using up existing supplies of plastic bags, acquisition of paper bags with 40% or greater recycled content) – coupled with supply and supply chain issues, RCC worries that this will lead to the need to import acceptable paper bags from Asia by air (resulting in higher greenhouse gas emissions;
  • the need for standardization across communities to ease understanding for consumers and operations for business (standardized list of requirements, exemptions, fees and implementation time-frames);
  • the lack of a standardized list of exemptions; and
  • an unusual and unprecedented definition of reusable bags that requires a bag to be designed to be machine-washable and usable at least 100 times – limiting the ability for retailers to sell and use some forms of bag including jute bags.

1. City of Vancouver is scheduled to begin their bag and cup bylaws (delayed) January 1, 2022.  Their straw and utensil bylaws were in effect April 22, 2020.  Their take-out food container ban of extended polystyrene began January 1, 2020.

2. Of the five municipalities whose bag bylaws were approved by the Province in September 2020:

  1. City of Victoria bylaw is in effect as of April 15, 2021
  2. Tofino and Ucluelet are already in effect
  3. Richmond will present their bylaw for approval at Committee on July 20, 2021, and at Council on July 26, 2021. If approved, which is expected, the bylaw will be adopted in September 2021, with implementation beginning in March 2022 and enforcement in September 2022 following community engagement. The ban will impact single-use plastic checkout bags, foam containers and plastic straws. Richmond does not plan to mandate fees or have minimum requirements for paper or reusable bags.
  4. Saanich has approved their bylaw. The implementation date will be August 20, 2021. RCC has both written to Saanich Council and met with staff to indicate our concern about the impacts of such a short implementation period.

3. Four bylaws were approved by the Province on February 12, 2021:

  1. Nanaimo’s bylaw is in effect as of July 1, 2021. RCC has written council to indicate our opposition to such a short-notice implementation. The Mayor of Nanaimo indicated no desire to change the effective date in his email response to RCC.
  2. Surrey plans to implement their bylaw in November 2021.
  3. Esquimalt’s bylaw will go into effect August 16, 2021
  4. Rossland passed their bylaw on March 8, 2021, coming into effect immediately.

4. Squamish: 

RCC’s expectation is that Squamish will amend their bylaw to comply with the regulatory amendment before they can enact it. 

5. Chilliwack

Chilliwack earlier proposed a bylaw that would:

    bans single-use plastic shopping bags and plastic straws (except accessible straws upon request),

    specifies a 10 cent fee for paper bags and single-use beverage cups, and

    requires that single-use plastic utensils only be provided at customer request.

RCC expects Chilliwack to change their bylaw to comply with the provincial regulation.

6. Other local governments

RCC expects a number of other local governments to introduce bylaws in the coming days and weeks.  RCC will work to track them all on this page.

City of Campbell RiverConsidering bylaw
Town of SidneyConsidering bylaw
City of Powell RiverConsidering bylaw
City of Pitt MeadowsConsidering bylawPlastic bags, (possibly foam, cups, straws)
District of North VancouverConsidering bylaw
District of West VancouverConsidering bylawBags, cups, foam
City of White Rock Considering bylaw
Resort Municipality of WhistlerConsidering bylaw
City of KamloopsConsidering bylawCheckout bags
District of SummerlandConsidering bylaw
City of Salmon ArmConsidering bylawCheckout bags
City of Williams LakeConsidering bylaw
City of Prince GeorgeConsidering bylawCheckout bags
City of ColwoodPlanning to implementCheckout bags
District of SookePlanning to implementCheckout bags
Town of Qualicum Beach Planning to implementCheckout bags and plastic straws
City of Courtenay Planning to implementCheckout bags and plastic straws
Town of ComoxPlanning to implementCheckout bags and straws
Village of CumberlandPlanning to implementCheckout bags and straws
Village of Harrison Hot SpringsPlanning to implementCheckout bags, straws, foam and plastic containers, cutlery, stir sticks
City of ChilliwackSubmitted for review to BCCheckout bags, foam serviceware, straws, fees on cups,  utensils (ban plastic, by request for alternatives)
City of Port MoodySubmitted for review to BC
District of SquamishConsidering adapting bylaw to meet new regulationPlastic, biodegradable plastic, or compostable plastic checkout bags and plastic straws

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