BC single-use bylaw updates - Retail Council of Canada
British Columbia | Sustainability

BC single-use bylaw updates

July 27, 2022

Post updated as of September 1, 2023

RCC has a Plastics Committee to which updates on single-use item (bag, cup, straw, utensil, etc.) bylaws are posted. 

B.C. published a Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation on July 14, 2023 that comes into effect on December 20, 2023. The regulation essentially bans single-use plastic bags and utensils, bans oxo-degradable packaging and products, and limits the use of problematic plastics in packaging, food service ware and food service accessories. More information can be found on the B.C. Government website including fact sheets (written guidance) on the legislation. RCC has a FAQ on the regulation. The regulation takes precedence over local bylaws.

B.C. legislation allows municipalities to enact bylaws regulating single-use cups, food service ware and other items which must be approved by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

The province sets out standards for local government single-use bylaws here

RCC’s primary concerns are:

  • 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 at least 100 times – limiting the ability for retailers to sell and use some forms of reusable bag.

1. Squamish 

Squamish’s bylaw was adopted on February 15, 2022 and enforcement began on August 15, 2022. The bylaw mandates a minimum 75 cent fee for paper bags and $2.75 for reusable bags.

2. Victoria

The City of Victoria has a single-use food service ware bylaw that is awaiting approval by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The bylaw requires that businesses provide reusable food service ware and beverage cups for customers consuming food or beverages on the business premises. The bylaw contains exemptions related to on-premise dishwashing and grease traps.

3. Chilliwack

Chilliwack has indicated that they will look to establish a fee for single-use plastic and paper drink cups.

4. Other local governments

RCC expects a period of relative quiet on public policy for single-use items and plastic waste. The provincial government’s principal outstanding item is reuse/refill. Similarly, some local governments are considering bylaws on reusable food service ware and cups. RCC will continue to track them on this page.

City of Campbell RiverConsidering bylaw
City of Powell RiverConsidering bylaw
District of North VancouverConsidering bylaw
District of West VancouverConsidering bylawCups
City of White Rock Considering bylaw
Resort Municipality of WhistlerConsidering bylaw
District of SummerlandConsidering bylaw
City of Williams LakeConsidering bylaw