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Richmond's single-use plastic ban to come into effect next year

The new bylaw will come into effect in March 2022, but won't be enforced until September of that year
Plastic bags
The City of Richmond has banned single-use plastics.

As of next year, you won’t find any plastic straws or bags at Richmond businesses.

Under the new “Single-Use Plastic and Other Items Bylaw,” adopted by city council last week, foam food containers, plastic straws and plastic checkout bags will be banned in Richmond as of March 27, 2022.

The ban applies to all businesses operating in Richmond and is in line with similar bylaws in other communities, according to the city, as well as provincial and federal regulations that are in the works.

It’s estimated that about 35 million foam food service containers, plastic straws and plastic checkout bags are collected in garbage in Richmond each year – that’s nearly 660 tonnes of plastic the city aims to remove from landfills, according to the City of Richmond.

“It is crucial that we address single-use plastics as a significant cause of environmental damage in our oceans, local waterways and other natural areas by reducing this type of unnecessary waste as we support a more sustainable, circular economy,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie, in a statement.

The six-month period before the bylaw comes into effect will give businesses time to use up stock and transition to alternatives, according to the city.

Furthermore, while the bylaw will come into effect next March, it won’t be enforced until September 2022.

The city is also providing resources to help businesses prepare for the ban, and point-of-sale materials to inform customers.

Richmond began working on the bylaw back in the summer of 2019, but it hit a hiccup when BC Supreme Court ruled that the City of Victoria had overstepped its jurisdiction by declaring a ban on single-use plastics.

Victoria’s ban was then challenged by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, and the court ruled that the city should have first had approval for the ban from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

In an effort to avoid the same mistake, Richmond sought the minister’s approval before proceeding with the final reading of the bill.

The province formally approved Richmond’s ban on single-use plastics last year, along with the bans in Victoria, Ucluelet, Saanich and Tofino.

At the time, the province said it would also be amending its community charter so that other municipalities would be able to introduce similar bylaws.   

According to the city, it’s estimated that, across Canada, its estimated 29,000 tonnes of plastic pollution enters the environment each year, while on a global scale, at least eight million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year.

For more information on the city’s single-use plastics bylaw, go to www.richmond.ca/singleuse.