Single-Use Frequently Asked Questions1. Now that the provincial government has approved Bylaw 10000, does that mean the ban is now officially in place?
In Richmond, it is estimated that more than 35 million plastic checkout bags, plastic straws and foam cups and containers are disposed of in the garbage each year. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste. Single-use items are the opposite of sustainable, and we want Richmond to be out in front, leading our community and others towards better ways to manage and reduce waste. It’s time to shift to a circular economy, where the materials we use stay in circulation to be used, re-used and recycled multiple times into new products.
2. When will Council be adopting Bylaw 10000 now that is has been approved by the provincial government?
Staff are reviewing the timing of when the Bylaw will be adopted as we recognize that our local businesses are still dealing with the challenges stemming from COVID-19.
3. Will the City still proceed with Bylaw 10000 even though businesses are already struggling due to COVID-19
Reducing reliance on single-use items is a priority for the City; however, we also recognize that our local businesses are already struggling with the impacts of COVID-19, and we do not want to add to their challenges by introducing these changes at this time. The final adoption of the Bylaw is currently postponed.
4. Will the City be sharing the outcomes of the community engagement workshops and survey?
Yes, the Report to Council and accompanying Community Engagement Summary that summarizes the business workshops and community survey will be presented at a future Council meeting and will then be available online at Richmond.ca/singleuse. We will also notify the businesses who participated in the workshops when the report is posted.
5. The high cost of alternatives to foam containers and lack of options for straws were both key issues for business – how will the City be addressing this?
The City acknowledges that alternatives for these banned items can be more expensive; however, we also know that many communities across BC are moving in the same direction to ban foam, plastic straws and plastic bags which can help increased demand for these items and result in reduced costs as part of the competitive market.
6. How much time will business have to use up existing supplies once Bylaw 10000 is passed?
Businesses will have 12 months from Council adoption to use up existing stock before Bylaw 10000 is enforced. We will also be working with local businesses to help them with implementing these changes.
7. How can the City be promoting reusable items like mugs, bags and containers when there is a risk of spreading COVID-19?
The City will continue to follow recommendations from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) on all matters regarding COVID-19. It is important to note that the BCCDC does not have any restrictions in place on the use of reusables; however, they do advise that that it is up to each retail store to determine – if, when and/or how – they will handle each reusable option while maintaining Provincial Health Officer Orders and normal operating requirements.
For more information on Provincial Health Officer Orders please visit BC CDC website
8. How will COVID-19 affect the City’s plan for roll-out?
We will be monitoring the impact of the pandemic and will continue to take direction from the BC Centre for Disease Control for guidance on health safety protocols. Depending on what happens with the pandemic, it could affect the timing of the roll-out. As well, because COVID-19 has disrupted our plans for more in-person workshops and outreach; we will need to explore other ways to connect with businesses during the preparation and transition phases. As an example, we may be able to hold virtual workshops.
9. When was Bylaw 10000 approved by the provincial government? What are the next steps for the City?
The Single-Use Plastic and Other Items Bylaw No. 10000 was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy on March 11, 2020 – which was also when COVID-19 was escalating and was then declared a pandemic with a provincial state-of-emergency. At the request of the Province, staff did not announce this to the public amidst the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Province publicly announced the approval on September 12, 2020. Our next steps, now that it has been officially approved will be to assess how and when to move forward with adoption and implement of the Bylaw. Part of this assessment will include giving consideration to the impacts of the pandemic on local businesses.
10. How will the City be supporting businesses when Bylaw 10000 is adopted?
The City is looking into hosting workshops that walk businesses through Bylaw 10000 and will be providing them with a tool kit with tips and resources on how to prepare for and implement these changes. We will also be providing businesses with communication materials to use in their work place to inform their customers about the Bylaw, such as posters, window stickers, till toppers, handbills etc.
11. Why is the City of Richmond undertaking the issue of single-use items?
In Richmond, it is estimated that more than 35 million plastic checkout bags, plastic straws and foam cups and containers are disposed of in the garbage each year. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste, and a lot of it ends up polluting our environment – such as oceans and other waterways— and negatively impacting or harming wildlife. In short – single-use items are not sustainable. We want Richmond to be out in front, leading our community and others towards better ways to manage and reduce waste. It’s time to shift to a sustainable circular economy, where the materials we use stay in circulation to be used, re-used and recycled multiple times into new products.
Pending Bylaw final adoption, the following items will be banned under Bylaw 10000:
- plastic checkout bags;
- plastic straws; and
- foam food service ware for prepared food (such as foam plates, clamshell containers, bowls and cups).
It is recognized that there are some exceptions that must be accommodated within the proposed Bylaw to address health and safety considerations, accessibility and bulk purchasing of these items. For a complete list of exemptions please refer to the "Overview of Proposed Bylaw 10000" page.
13. Who does Bylaw 10000 apply to?
This bylaw will apply to all businesses in Richmond.
14. What is the projected timeline for Bylaw 10000's implementation?
The City now has provincial approval of Bylaw 10000 and are working on assessing when the Bylaw will come forward for adoption as we believe it’s important to take into account how COVID-19 is affecting our business community. The following is the timeline of how the Bylaw will be implemented after it is adopted by Council:
- Effective Date of the Bylaw: 6 months after Council's final adoption;
- Enforcement Date of the Bylaw: 12 months after Council's final adoption (6 months after effective date to provide businesses time to use up existing supplies); and
- Expiry of Charitable Organizations Exemption in the Bylaw: The exemption for charitable societies and organizations will end 18 monts after Council's final adoption of the Bylaw.
15. How will Bylaw 10000 be enforced?
Once the Bylaw is in effect, the City will begin by focusing on education and working with businesses to support their compliance efforts for the first six months. This will be a staged approach to ensure that businesses have all the information and resources necessary to successfully comply.
16. What penalties or fines will businesses face for non-compliance?
Penalties will be laid only once sufficient education and notice has been issued to the business in non-compliance. Full Bylaw enforcement with fines will be in effect 12 months after the Bylaw is adopted.
The penalties for not complying with the Bylaw include fines of up to $10,000 and no less than $1,000, as well as any costs of the prosecution.
17. Will biodegradable plastic or compostable plastic alternatives be permitted under the Bylaw?
No. Biodegradable plastic or compostable plastic checkout bags and straws will not be permitted under Bylaw 10000. Compostable/biodegradable plastics are not guaranteed to biodegrade if littered. They are also not accepted at industrial composting facilities because standards and certifications are not aligned with existing infrastructure that is designed to compost food scraps and yard waste. Often times, small flecks of plastic remain in the end product, rendering the product contaminated. It is beyond local government’s ability to control compostable packaging design, so the City is reaching out to other levels of government to advocate for broader measures that will result in consistent standards and policies for compostable and biodegradable plastics.
18. What is the problem?
It is estimated that over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced around the world, with approximately 26% – 215.8 million tonnes— created to be used once and thrown away. With only 9% of plastic material actually being collected for recycling in Canada, the amount of avoidable plastic packaging waste being purposely or accidentally littered, blown away or washed into drainage systems is alarming. Additionally, plastic pollution can be hugely detrimental to all types of wildlife causing starvation, suffocation, laceration, infection, reduced reproductive success and ultimately mortality.
19. What are single-use plastic and other items?
Single-use items – such as checkout bags, straws, utensils and take-out containers – are items that are intended to be used only briefly before they are thrown away or recycled. While many of these items can serve valuable functions—such as food waste reduction, storage, or transportation—in some situations, they can be avoided or replaced with reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives. As a community, we need to rethink the amount of waste we are generating and work together to incorporate small changes – such as reducing single-use items— to work towards a more circular economy. It is important to note that in some cases, single use items may be necessary for disability and accessibility needs and for health and safety considerations.
20. What is the circular economy?
The circular economy is an industrial system that looks to transform the current “take-make-dispose” process of consumption into "repurpose-renew-regenerate." The circular economy model aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
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