(May 27/18) On May 16, the Standing Committee of Policy and Strategic Priorities approved the City of Vancouver’s reduction strategy for Single-Use Item (SUI) including a ban on polystyrene and plastic straws effective June 2019. As the plastic straw ban was a new recommendation, the report recommends that the city consult with stakeholders and come back to council with recommendations on a possible revised implementation timeframe and possible exemptions in December 2018. The strategy also includes an aggressive reduction strategy for disposable cups and plastic and paper bags, where businesses will be given three options to reduce their use of these items including:

  1. Distribute no disposable cups or plastic/paper shopping bags
  2. Do not distribute cups or plastic/paper shopping bags for free
  3. Other mechanisms that achieve a reduction target to be proposed and finalized through consultation

After hearing numerous speakers and debating the report, the council committee passed a few amendments to the report recommendations including speeding up the implementation timeframe from November 2019 to June 2019 and asking city staff to explore ways to ensure that the biggest businesses producing single-use item waste pay a larger share for disposing of single-use item waste.

Restaurants Canada has been involved in the consultation process since the outset and appeared before council to make a number of points including:

  1. Restaurants Canada supports the reduction strategy in principle but has some concerns with some of the details.
  2. Restaurants Canada does not oppose a ban on polystyrene providing more information and support be given to small restaurants on cost-effective replacement materials.
  3. Restaurants Canada appreciates that additional consultation will take place on the proposed plastic straw ban. Council should consider extending the plastic straw ban implementation date and exceptions to the ban when staff reports back to council on their stakeholder consultations in December.
  4. Restaurants Canada supports the flexible approach of providing businesses with three options on how individual businesses can reduce the use of disposable cups and plastic and paper bags. Should the three options for businesses to reduce disposable cup/bag usage not be reduce the use of these items enough in the first two years, the city could still impose a complete ban on these items by 2021.
  5. Restaurants Canada also voiced some concerns over a number of proposals included in the other priority actions section of the report including providing disposable utensils by request only, expanding Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) property, bring your own container programs and charging businesses with recouping public-realm cleanliness costs.
  6. Restaurants Canada reminded council that the competitive low margin restaurant industry is already facing a number of cost increases and adding additional costs on members is like death from a thousand cuts, jeopardizing their viability and making life less not more affordable for Vancouverites.

The single-use Item reduction report and amended recommendations will go to Regular Council for final approval June 5.

Members interested in reading the full reduction strategy report and Restaurants Canada’s response can read our  letter to Council or contact Restaurants Canada’s Vice President, Western Canada, Mark von Schellwitz at mark@restaurantscanada.org.

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