Vancouver may give businesses breathing room on plastic straw, Styrofoam ban

The city launched its strategy to reduce the impact of plastic and paper hoping to have ban by June 1

A ban on the unnecessary use of plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout cups and containers in Vancouver may be delayed until next year to give small businesses more time to adapt.

The city says in a news release that staff will present a report to council on Wednesday requesting a time extension and also calling for a provincial policy for dealing with single-use “compostable” items like cutlery that aren’t accepted at composting facilities in British Columbia.

“Our commitment to reducing single-use items is unwavering, we’re just taking the time to do the consultation to get the bylaw details right. We know that thousands of businesses are going to be affected by this change,” senior project lead Monica Kosmak said in an interview.

The city launched its strategy to reduce the impact of plastic and paper shopping bags, disposable cups, takeout containers, plastic straws and single-use utensils last spring with the goal of having bans in place by June 1.

Since then, Kosmak said staff have been consulting stakeholders including food vendors and non-profits and researching plastic and foam alternatives.

The city has heard that the best way it can support businesses through the transition is by giving them more time to find convenient and affordable alternatives, she said.

The city has also learned since the zero-waste strategy was launched that compostable plastics don’t break down easily.

READ MORE: Vancouver to ban plastic straws, cups and more in 2019

“What we’ve found is that compostable plastics are not designed to biodegrade if they’re littered in the natural environment on land or in marine environments,” she said.

Compostable plastics are not accepted at compost facilities in British Columbia under provincial regulations. They typically take longer to break down than the facilities, which are designed to process food waste and yard trimmings, can handle, she said.

“We’re hearing through the consultation that businesses are leaning toward using more compostable substitutes as an alternative but they may not be solving the plastics problem, so we’re looking for the province’s support to try and address this issue,” she said.

The staff report recommends the city put forward resolutions at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention requesting provincial support.

The proposed resolutions would call on the province to ensure “compostable” single-use items are designed to fully biodegrade if littered in the natural environment and the items align with composting infrastructure, collection and management in the province.

They also call for a more comprehensive provincial strategy for reducing the use of disposable items that support federal goals for the reduction of plastic waste.

Kosmak said the city is also taking time to find the appropriate balance between reducing the use of plastic straws and ensuring they’re still an option for people with disabilities and other health concerns. The city has previously said there won’t be an outright ban on straws but a reduction in their use.

The city has learned through the consultation that a good option could see a general ban on plastic straws in place for food vendors that also requires them to keep a small stock of bendable plastic straws for those who need them, Kosmak said.

“Similar to accessible parking spots and ramps and railings, a bendable plastic straw, we’re learning, is a very good tool for accessibility and very much needed,” she said.

“What we’re doing right now is taking time for the consultation. It’s still underway, it’s not complete yet, to make sure we get that detail right.”

The news release says the staff report call for an extension of the start date for a ban on foam cups and take-out containers to Jan. 1 and a ban on unnecessary plastic straws to next April.

It says another report this November will provide more details on the proposed bylaws, including strategies for phasing in the rollout, education, and addressing accessibility concerns.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Snowbirds to perform at Boundary Bay Airshow

The nine-aircraft team and a CF-18 Hornet will be practicing over Delta beginning Friday (July 19)

VIDEO: White Rock’s Totem Park renaming motion to be reconsidered

1999 commemorative ceremony video shows ‘historic’ apology from RCMP to First Nations

FOCUS: Federal election campaign heating up in Surrey

Lazy days of summer interrupted by knocks on residents’ doors by incumbents, would-be MPs in pursuit of votes

Surrey survey details new sports stadium planned at Bear Creek Park

The proposed facility ‘will upgrade an existing track and sports field to international standards’

OUR VIEW: Denying delegations is not what Surrey council was elected to do

To be an elected official is to be a servant, not a censor

VIDEO: Bloodhounds join the search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Petsearchers Canada arrive in town Monday afternoon to help out

B.C. Ferries cancels two sailings Monday due to mechanical issues

Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay run affected in order to repair Queen of New Westminster

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Nine kittens and cats rescued after being locked in bins in northern B.C.: SPCA

SPCA says cats were starving, and matted with feces and urine

Woman grabbed, followed on trail near SFU campus: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told police a man was following and tried to talk to her

ICBC insurance renewals get more complicated this year

Crash history, driver risk prompt more reporting requirements

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

Most Read