A new provincial regulation will expand B.C.’s efforts to tackle hard-to-recycle single-use and plastic items.
The Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation will cover shopping bags, disposable food service accessories, oxo-degradable plastics and food service packaging made of polystyrene foam, PVC, PVDC, compostable or biodegradable plastics.
“As part of our government’s CleanBC Plastics Action Plan, the regulation strengthens our efforts to prevent plastic waste and pollution, and ensure a better future for the people of B.C. through a healthier environment,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Focusing on hard-to-recycle single-use and plastic items will help move B.C. to a circular economy where waste and pollution are eliminated, products and materials are kept in the economy through re-use, and natural systems are regenerated.”
The requirements will start to come into force in December 2023. This will give six months to educate the public and businesses about the new requirements, and allow time for businesses to use up existing inventory.
“I am pleased to see our government respond to public calls for further action on plastic waste and pollution,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, and MLA for Vancouver-False Creek. “The new regulation complements and expands on provincial, municipal and federal government actions on plastics by further reducing waste and promoting the use of reusable items.”
Since the Province launched the CleanBC Action Plan in 2019, 21 municipalities have established bylaws to limit single-use plastics in their communities.
The federal government is also regulating single-use plastics that are harmful to the environment. In December 2022, the manufacturing and importing of six plastic items were prohibited (plastic checkout bags, drinking straws, cutlery, stir sticks, ring carriers and food-service ware made from plastics). Sales of these items will be banned as of Dec. 20, 2023.
B.C.'s regulation improves on these measures to limit the use of many single-use items, promote reusables and eliminate the use of additional items. Over their life cycle, reusable products generally produce fewer emissions, consume less water, and decrease waste, litter and pollution compared to disposable alternatives.
“Addressing climate change requires individual and collective action,” said Joan Phillip, MLA-elect for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. “Through our government’s waste-reduction policies and programs, we are advancing B.C.’s climate action goals and ensuring a better future for the next generation.”
Other actions to address plastic waste and pollution include:
- amending a regulation to enable local governments to ban plastic shopping bags and certain single-use plastics;
- adding milk and milk-substitute beverage containers to B.C.’s deposit-refund system to capture the millions of containers from restaurants, schools and offices without a dedicated recycling system;
- adding all residential single-use and packaging-like products to B.C.’s recycling stream;
- investing nearly $40 million in the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund, which supports B.C.-based innovators to reduce plastic waste, reuse items and include more recycled material in the manufacturing of products;
- supporting the largest shoreline cleanup in B.C.’s history through Clean Coast, Clean Waters, with more than 1,500 tonnes of marine debris removed to date, and more than 60% of shoreline material reused/recycled; and
- phasing in the recycling of new products, such as electric vehicle batteries, mattresses, compressed canisters and medical sharps over the next four years under the Extended Producer Responsibility Five-Year Plan.
George V. Harvie, chair, Metro Vancouver board of directors –
“The region’s residents disposed of 1.3 billion single-use items in 2022, and reducing waste while maximizing the reuse, recycling, and recovery of materials is a significant focus of Metro Vancouver’s work. We applaud this provincial regulatory framework for single-use and plastic items, which will help us achieve reduction goals and address the challenges with compostables and hard-to-recycle plastics.”
Lyndsay Poaps, executive director, Recycling Council of British Columbia –
“Reducing our consumption of fossil fuel-based single-use products is imperative to human and planetary health. Recycling is important, but we need to prevent plastic from becoming waste in the first place. Regulating single-use and plastic items provincewide, and harmonizing that regulation with those of senior government, will help B.C. evolve to a more circular economy.”
Cody Irwin, chief executive officer, ShareWares –
"In Metro Vancouver alone, 441 million disposable cups and takeout containers are thrown out every year. ShareWares is on a mission to end this madness by empowering communities with the tools to ditch disposables and break free from our throwaway lifestyle. We are excited to see waste reduction regulations rolling out in B.C., and to be a part of a growing movement of businesses dedicated to making a positive difference in our community and the environment.”
To view the Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation, visit: www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/oic/oic_cur/0461_2023
For more information on plastic waste prevention in B.C., visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=4729A52504704E94A74FC690C907D7F9