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Victoria eyes ban on foam containers, plastic drinking straws

Victoria, having already passed a bylaw banning plastic bags, has its eye on banning other items such as plastic straws and plastic-foam containers.
Victoria city council is considering a ban on plastic drinking straws. May 2018

Victoria, having already passed a bylaw banning plastic bags, has its eye on banning other items such as plastic straws and plastic-foam containers.

“We started with plastic bags because it was low-hanging fruit, and for the rest of the single-use items, we’re going to take a comprehensive approach,” Mayor Lisa Helps said.

“What our staff are doing right now is developing a single-use materials strategy as part of a comprehensive zero-waste program,” she said.

“Really, what the aim is overall is to create strategies and programs to minimize all single-use materials — straws, Styrofoam cups, takeaway food [containers], other packaging so that really we do get to a zero-waste circular economy where there is no garbage,” Helps said.

She said the sustainable waste strategy, which is expected next month, is being developed in consultation with stakeholders “just like we did with plastic bags.”

Helps said residents don’t have to wait for a bylaw to start reducing their use of single-use materials.

“While we’re getting our act together at city hall, I’d really encourage citizens to take a ban in their own lives on single-use items because it’s actually pretty easy to do if you just give it a little bit of thought,” she said.

Victoria’s ban on single-use plastic bags is set to take effect July 1.

Under the bylaw, businesses will be prohibited from providing customers single-use plastic bags. They will be allowed to provide paper or reusable bags to customers, for a minimum fee of 15 cents for paper bags and $1 for reusable bags, increasing to 25 cents and $2 respectively on July 1, 2019.

Businesses could be fined for providing customers a bag without asking if they want one, or for providing a bag free of charge.

Fines could range between $100 and $10,000 for corporate offenders and between $50 and $500 for individuals for every offence. Enforcement is not set to begin until 2019.

Retailers will be allowed to use their existing bag stock up to January 2019 without penalty.

If Victoria council agrees to the new sustainable-waste strategy, it would be following in Vancouver’s footsteps.

In a measure to take effect in June 2019, Vancouver council has voted to ban the distribution of plastic straws, as well as foam take-out containers and cups as part of its zero-waste strategy.

Vancouver council’s new bylaw is designed to reduce the amount of disposable cups, and plastic and paper shopping bags, handed out across the city.

Under the Vancouver bylaw, businesses must choose one of the following options:

• No distribution at all of disposable cups or plastic and paper shopping bags.

• Charging an extra fee for disposable cups and plastic and paper shopping bags.

• Other solutions that will be proposed and finalized through consultation.

A statement issued by Vancouver said the city will bring in an outright ban on single-use bags and cups if the reduction plans don’t lead to the city reaching its target reduction rate by 2021.

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