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Vancouver may delay plastic straw ban until 2020

City staff say they need more time to consult with businesses and persons with disabilities before enacting the ban.


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April 22, 2019 by Canadian Plastics

A proposed plastic straw ban in Vancouver, originally set to come into effect by summer, may be delayed until next year.

The city originally set a goal of implementing the ban by June 1, 2019, but now staff are recommending council postpone the ban until early 2020 so that more consultation can take place. Staff plan to request new start dates for the bans: Jan. 1, 2020 for the ban on foam cups and takeout containers, and April 2020 for the ban on the unnecessary use of plastic straws.

In a statement, the city said that staff will present a report to council within the next week 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.

“We’ve heard that more time is needed for making the transition,” Monica Kosmak, Vancouver’s senior project manager for its Zero Waste program, said in an interview. “Our commitment to reducing single-use items is unwavering and we’re just taking the time to…get the details of the bylaw right.”

The city’s statement said the delay would, in part, give businesses more time to adapt to the change. In addition, it noted that the plastic straw ban posed a particular challenge to “small businesses and ethnocultural businesses [that] rely on single-use plastic straws to serve drinks such as bubble tea, smoothies and to-go drinks.”

Plastic straw bans have also drawn fire from the disabled and their advocates, who say that the bans may make life more complicated for people in the disabled community who rely on these tools because they are unable to go through the physical motion of putting a drink to a mouth. “Other types of straws simply do not offer the combination of strength, flexibility, and safety that plastic straws do,” Disability Rights Washington, a nonprofit with offices in Seattle, said in a letter it coauthored to the city last July in response to a proposed plastic straw ban in Washington state.

The single-use item reduction strategy in Vancouver was first introduced in June 2017 and, after consultation with businesses and the public, it was adopted by Vancouver city council in June 2018 as part of the Zero Waste 2040 Strategic Plan.