New single-use item rules coming to Vancouver

Published December 2, 2019

Businesses with operations in Vancouver will need to get ready for the following new rules regulating single-use items starting in the new year:

Jan. 1, 2020: Foam cups and foam takeout containers will be prohibited

This applies to:

  • All white and coloured polystyrene foam cups and takeout containers that are used for serving prepared food or beverages, including but not limited to: plates, cups, bowls, trays, cartons and hinged (“clamshell”) or lidded containers; and
  • All prepared food, whether consumed on the premises, served as takeout or delivery, or packaged as leftovers.

Businesses are encouraged to use up any polystyrene cups or containers before the end of the year and reach out to suppliers to ensure adequate stock of alternative cups and packaging will be available in time for Jan. 1, 2020.

The City of Vancouver has provided toolkits and other resources to help businesses prepare for this city-wide ban at

April 22, 2020: Single-use utensils and bendable plastic straws will be permitted by request only

  • Food vendors will be required to maintain a supply of accessible straws (bendable plastic straws wrapped in paper) and provide them to customers, without question, upon request.
  • A one-year exemption will apply to plastic straws served with bubble tea to allow time for the market to provide alternatives.
  • All single-use utensils will only be permitted to be given out upon request.

Jan. 1, 2021: Plastic bags will be prohibited and new minimum fees will become mandatory for paper and reusable bags, as well as disposable cups

  • All plastic bags will be prohibited beginning Jan. 1, 2021, while minimum fees will become mandatory for paper and reusable bags given out.
  • Paper bags will cost 15 cents per bag, while reusable bags will be sold for $1. Those fees will be in place for one year until Jan. 1, 2022 when the fees will go up: 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag. Paper bags will also be required to be a minimum of 40 per cent recycled content.
  • A 25 cent minimum fee also must be introduced for disposable cups, with the intention to encourage customers to bring their own travel mugs and to incentivize industry to develop reusable cup share programs.

About the Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy

The City of Vancouver’s Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy was first introduced in the spring of 2018 and approved by city council on June 5, 2018.

After consultation with the city’s residents and businesses, as well as industry associations, including Restaurants Canada, city staff released a report on the strategy in November 2019, which recommended city council adopt the rules listed above.

Restaurants Canada submitted a response to the report, outlining concerns on behalf of the foodservice industry and presented these concerns to city council on Nov. 27. Later that day, city council voted to adopt all by-laws recommended in the report from city staff.

Next steps

In the coming months, as businesses take action to reduce waste and comply with the by-laws, translated toolkits will be available online and print copies by-request to help businesses with the transition and communicate the changes to their customers.

A public awareness campaign will launch in advance of the by-laws coming into effect to encourage behaviour change in residents, tourists, businesses and their staff.

City council is also calling on the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to request that the province:

  • Develop standards for the use of compostable, biodegradable, oxodegradable and photodegradable plastics;
  • Align standards for certified compostable plastics and compost facilities in British Columbia; and
  • Require Extended Producer Responsibility for all compostable packaging wastes generated by residential, industrial, commercial and institutional sectors, as well as the public realm.

More information on the City of Vancouver’s Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy and next steps are available at

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Western Canada, at

Restaurants Canada Digital

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