British Columbia | British Columbia | Sustainability

BC single-use bylaw updates

July 27, 2022

Post updated as of August 4, 2022

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. 

The B.C. Government currently has a ministerial order under the Community Charter (local-government enabling legislation) which governs the implementation of local single-use bylaws.  RCC expects a regular under the Environmental Management Act to be enacted in Fall/Winter 2022/3 which will introduce province-wide bans and further restrict single-use items. To that end, the Province held a consultation on that regulation (which closed July 5, 2022) and RCC issued a detailed response to that consultation.

RCC’s primary concerns are:

  • 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 about the cost and availability of replacement single-use items;
  • restrictions on single-use items made of paper fibre which are outwardly an excellent option to replace some single-use plastic items;
  • confused citizen/consumer messaging about plastics, paper fibre and appropriate recycling;
  • 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); 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 and leather 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’s bylaw was approved on September 27, 2021 by Council. The bylaw will be implemented on March 27, 2022, with enforcement to begin September 27, 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’s bylaw is in effect as of August 20, 2021.

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

  1. Nanaimo’s bylaw is in effect as of July 1, 2021.
  2. Surrey’s bylaw is in effect as of October 18, 2021.
  3. Esquimalt’s bylaw is in effect as of August 16, 2021.
  4. Rossland passed their bylaw on March 8, 2021, coming into effect immediately.

4. Squamish 

Squamish’s bylaw was adopted on February 15, 2022 and will be enforced beginning August 15, 2022. The ban will impact single-use plastic checkout bags, plastic utensils, polystyrene foam takeout containers, plastic stir sticks and plastic straws (barring accessibility straws). The bylaw mandates a minimum 75 cent fee for paper bags and $2.75 for reusable bags.

5. Chilliwack

Chilliwack has updated their bylaw to comply with the provincial regulation, it was approved on September 21, 2021 and came into effect on April 1, 2022. The bylaw mandates a minimum 15 cent charge for paper shopping bags and $1 fee for reusable bags during the Introductory Period from April 1 to December 31, 2022, rising to minimum 15 cents and $2, respectively, as of January 1, 2023. The bylaw also bans the distribution of foam drink cups, foam containers, and single-use plastic utensils as of April 1, 2022. Non-plastic disposable utensils and paper straws will only be available at customer request, and plastic straws will only be available at customer request for accessibility reasons. Chilliwack has also indicated that they will look to establish a fee for single-use plastic and paper drink cups once legislative authority for these items has been granted by the Province.

6. Port Moody

Port Moody’s bylaw was adopted on October 12, 2021 and came into effect April 22, 2022. The bylaw bans single-use plastic bags (with standard exceptions), mandates a minimum 25 cent charge for paper shopping bags and $2 fee for reusable bags. The bylaw will also ban the distribution of foam containers, plastic stir sticks, and plastic drinking straws (with an exemption for those with accessibility needs who request a plastic drinking straw).

7. Sooke

Sooke’s bylaw was adopted on November 22, 2021 and came into effect May 22, 2022. The bylaw bans single-use plastic bags (with standard exceptions), mandates a minimum 25 cent charge for paper shopping bags and $2 fee for reusable bags.

8. Delta

Delta’s bylaw was passed on December 6, 2021 and was adopted on June 6, 2022. It will come into effect six months after adoption, with enforcement beginning a year after adoption. The bylaw bans single-use plastic bags (with standard exceptions), mandates a minimum 25 cent charge for paper shopping bags and $2 fee for reusable bags. The bylaw will also ban polystyrene takeout containers and cups.

9. Revelstoke

Revelstoke’s bylaw was passed on January 11, 2022 and came into effect July 1, 2022, with enforcement beginning six months later on January 1, 2023. The bylaw bans single-use plastic bags (with standard exceptions), mandates a minimum fee of 15 cents per paper shopping bag and $1.00 per reusable bag. The bylaw also bans plastic straws and polystyrene takeout containers and cups.

10. Fernie

Fernie’s City council voted on February 28, 2022 to prioritize the development of a draft bylaw to limit the sale of plastic bags. RCC has been in contact with Fernie regarding the importance of stakeholder consultation and reasonable timelines for implementation.

11. Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm’s bylaw came into effect July 1, 2022.  The bylaw bans single-use plastic bags (with standard exceptions), mandates a minimum 25 cent charge for paper shopping bags and $2 fee for reusable bags. 

12. Sidney

Sidney’s bylaw will take effect January 1, 2023. The bylaw bans plastic checkout bags (with standard exemptions), as well as foam containers for use with take-out/prepared food, plastic drinking straws (with an exemption for those with accessibility needs), stir sticks, and plastic utensils. The minimum fee for paper bags will be 25 cents, with a minimum fee of $2.00 for reusable bags.

13. Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs’ bylaw will take effect January 1, 2023. It bans plastic checkout bags (with standard exemptions), polystyrene foam service ware containers, plastic utensils and plastic drinking straws. The minimum fee for paper bags will be 15 cents for the introductory period, rising to 25 cents after December 31, 2023, and $1.00 for reusable, rising to $2 after December 31, 2023.

14. Other local governments

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

MunicipalityStatusItems
City of Campbell RiverConsidering 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 Williams LakeConsidering bylaw
City of Prince GeorgeConsidering bylawCheckout bags
City of ColwoodPlanning 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

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