Vancouver has become the first major city in Canada to ban plastic straws, polystyrene foam cups, and takeout containers! The Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy, part of the city’s Zero Waste Strategic Plan to eliminate the disposal of solid waste by 2040, will prohibit distribution of the targeted single-use plastics starting June 1, 2019.

The Zero Waste 2040 plan was passed unanimously by the Vancouver City Council. As explained in a statement following the decision, the strategic plan includes “forward-looking policies and actions” that are to help Vancouver successfully achieve its zero waste goal – some of them can be implemented right away, while others will lay the groundwork for progress that requires more time.

“The Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy responds to feedback heard from large and small businesses, residents, and the community as a whole that bold actions are needed to address problematic single-use materials,” the statement says. “There was overwhelming support to ban foam cups and foam fast food containers, to reduce use of plastic and paper bags and disposable cups, and to ban the use of plastic straws with some exceptions for health care needs.”

As The Globe and Mail reports, the ban applies to restaurants and vendors with city business licenses, a fine of $250 is being considered for offenders.

“It’s a coastal city, with the plastic items having a significant impact on the environment, we feel it’s important to take action,” said Albert Shamess, City of Vancouver Director of Waste Management and Resource Recovery.

The priority actions within the strategy include banning some of the top single-use plastics. The remaining actions include reduction plans for disposable cups and plastic and paper shopping bags, ensuring disposable utensils are only given out upon request, and they also plan for “Made-in-Vancouver” single-use item solutions – such as a city mug share program and reusable straws.

“Change like this can be costly and can be inconvenient, but if we keep this bigger picture in mind, especially in terms of the environment, it’s a no-brainer,” said Ian Tostenson, the President of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.

According to the statement, 2.6 million plastic-lined paper cups and 2 million plastic bags are thrown away every week in Vancouver. Disposable cups and takeout containers make up around 50 percent of all items in public waste bins, while plastic straws and stir sticks make up about 2 percent of shoreline litter in the city. It costs Vancouver taxpayers $2.5 million a year to collect these items. The new ban aims to greatly alleviate those problems.

We all can play a small part in reducing plastic pollution for the benefit of the planet. To find out how you can make a difference by ditching plastic straws, disposable cups, and other single-use items, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Image source: FOX/Pexels