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Vancouver council decides this is the last straw

The Vancouver, B.C., City Council voted Wednesday to ban the distribution of plastic straws, foam cups and takeout containers effective June 1, 2019. It's the first municipality in Canada to ban the single-use disposable items.
The Vancouver, B.C., City Council voted Wednesday to ban the distribution of plastic straws, foam cups and takeout containers effective June 1, 2019. It's the first municipality in Canada to ban the single-use disposable items.

This summer will be your last chance to suck it up when visiting Vancouver, B.C.

The Vancouver City Council voted Wednesday to ban the distribution of plastic straws, foam cups and takeout containers effective June 1, 2019. It's the first municipality in Canada to ban the single-use disposable items.

Seattle has a similar ban on plastic straws and utensils, set to go into effect this July.

Earlier this week, 15 businesses in Deep Cove, in North Vancouver, agreed to stop offering plastic straws in what they called the "last straw" campaign. They will keep paper straws, which are more expensive, on hand for people who request them.

"I just had to do something," said Megan Curren, a Deep Cove resident and merchant, in an iinterview with CBC Vancouver. "In our community, because it's getting busier and busier, the amount of waste we were generating was obscene."

The Vancouver move was part of the city's Zero Waste 2040 plan, which also aims to reduce the amount of disposable cups, as well as plastic and paper shopping bags handed out across the city, by asking businesses to discourage their use, charge customers a fee to use them, or simply stop providing them.

According to Recycle B.C., more than 2 million plastic bags make their way into the city's trash cans every week. In addition, 2.6 million disposable coffee cups are thrown into street garbage bins each week and, nationwide, 58 million straws are thrown out every day.

“It’s a big boost towards Zero Waste 2040,” Mayor Gregor Robertson told the Vancouver Sun. “This is a really important step forward to demonstrate how serious we are in phasing out plastics and making sure we are working aggressively towards zero waste.”

One group that opposed the ban: bubble tea shops, who say no viable alternatives for the bigger bubble tea straws are currently available on the market. They don't oppose the ban, but asked council to delay the action.

“Our industry depends on straws,” said Katie Fung, a manager at Pearl Fever Tea House. “This ban will be detrimental to many businesses in our city.”

An online poll at theprovince.com showed nearly 66 percent of respondents supported the ban.

Concerns of bubble tea shop owners was corrected May 18, 2018.

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