Single-Use Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is the City of Richmond undertaking action on 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. 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. What is proposed to be banned?
Pending Ministerial approval, the following items will be banned under Bylaw 10000:
- Styrofoam food service ware (including but not limited to containers, cups, plates and clamshells);
- Plastic checkout bags and;
- Plastic straws
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
3. Who does Single-Use Plastic and Other Items Bylaw No. 10000 apply to?
The proposed ban would affect all business license holders in the community – specifically those who currently use plastic checkout bags such as retail shopping or grocery bags, as well as those who use plastic straws or sell or provide food using foam containers.
4. How are residents impacted by Bylaw 10000?
Upon Ministerial approval and Council adoption of Bylaw 10000, residents will notice the following:
Plastic checkout bags will no longer be offered at point of sale.
Residents are encouraged to bring their own reusable checkout bags to carry purchased items.
Plastic straws and foam containers will no longer be offered at businesses in Richmond.
5. Can customers still purchase packages of bulk plastic bags, straws, foam food service ware including but not limited to plates, cups and containers for personal use?
6. When will Bylaw 10000 be implemented?
The bylaw is scheduled for final reading and adoption upon Ministerial approval—it is from this date the following starting points will be used to initiate new phases of the bylaw implementation:
- Council final adoption
- Effective Date of the Proposed Bylaw: 6 months after Council’s final adoption;
- Enforcement Date of the Proposed 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 Proposed Bylaw: The exemption for charitable societies and organizations will end 18 months after Council’s final adoption of the Proposed Bylaw.
7. How will Bylaw 10000 be enforced?
Pending approval, the City will begin with an awareness phase by continuing education and working with businesses to support their compliance efforts. This will be a staged approach to ensure that businesses have all the information and resources necessary to successfully comply. Penalties will be laid only once sufficient education and notice has been issued to the business in non-compliance.
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. Ticketing provision will also apply.
8. 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. This will make it easier and more clear for businesses and residents to know they are choosing acceptable products.
9. 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. 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.
10. What is the problem with single-use items?
It is estimated that over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced around the world, with approximately 26% – 215.8 million tonnes— created to be used once and thrown away. With only 11-12% of plastic material actually being collected for recycling in Canada, the amount of avoidable plastic packaging waste being littered, blown away or washed into drainage systems is alarming.
11. What is the circular economy concept?
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.
12. What alternative materials should the public use instead?
|Single-Use Items||Banned Materials||Recyclable Alternatives||Reusable Alternatives|
|Hot/Cold Beverage Cups||
|Containers (clamshell, hinged lid)||
Did you know...
- 26% of plastic created world-wide is designed to be used once and then discarded, with 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic having been produced worldwide, that’s a lot of unnecessary waste
- In a recent study, Metro Vancouver measured the amount of plastic bags, foam cups and containers, and plastic straws at the landfill each year. It’s estimated that more than 35 million of these items come from garbage collected in Richmond.
Related Links and Resources
- Overview of of Proposed Bylaw 10000
- Bylaw 10000 Implementation Support
- Proposed Single-Use Plastic and Other Items Bylaw No. 10000
- News Release - Richmond takes lead to ban single-use plastics