Vancouver’s Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy | Triggers Zero Waste Merchandise Opportunities


Single-Use Bans & A Zero Waste Movement

Leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vancouver made headway to reducing single-use items, with bans taking effect for foam cups and foam take-out containers as of January 1, 2020, and plastic straws and utensils as of April 22, 2020 – this was a significant win on the reduction of single-use product waste. It’s a great opportunity to explore zero waste merchandise – leveraging your employee gifts and promotional products programs to give the gift of reusable and refillable items.  

When Covid hit, to keep businesses open and staff safe, coffee shops and zero waste grocers did not accept reusable cups and containers due to a lack of procedure and ethical guidelines. That is beginning to change (thankfully). Covid was a setback for the zero-waste movement – and it’s good to see momentum shifting towards reusables again.  

The City of Vancouver is back on track for zero waste by 2040 with the release of the document Reducing Single-Use Items During Covid-19 will help guide and protect the health and safety of residents and businesses. And with the BC Centre for Disease Control guidelines in place, vendors can, once again, provide reusable cups and accept customers’ reusable cups and reusable shopping bags during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The city does recognize that all materials can impact the environment, society, or resources – suggesting prioritizing “Avoid, Reduce, Reuse” before recycling or disposal. Next up, the City’s initiatives to ban single-use cups and shopping bags start on the approaching date of January 1, 2022.  

Single-Use Shopping Bags

For businesses, this means no more single-use plastic shopping bags – including fossil fuel-based plastics and ‘compostable’ bio-films are no longer acceptable. In addition, paper bags will require a minimum of 40% recycled content. Finally, even reusable bags need to be capable of a minimum of 100 uses to meet the new standards. For the customer, this movement means a minimum fee of .15 cents per paper bag and a $1 minimum fee for each new reusable bag – increasing to a minimum of $2 by 2023.  

Single-Use Cups

Food vendors will be required to report on quantities of cups distributed through their business or establishment. However, businesses who opt-in to reusable cup sharing programs get waived from the reporting requirement. Customers who prefer or opt-out of reusable cups will see a minimum charge of 25 cents for each single-use beverage cup.

Zero-Waste Promotional Products

We are excited to see this strategy come into effect this new year as it sends a signal to consumers that single-use products are harmful.  

These bans on single-use products are emerging all over the world. It creates an opportunity for brands and organizations to re-think their promotional products and corporate gifting strategies to put customized refillable and re-usable containers into the hands of their employees, customers and partners. Fairware invites you to check out our look books for inspiration on shifting your promotional product strategy and corporate gifting programs to reusable and refillable products. Let’s give people the tools they need to live zero waste lifestyles.  

Get Inspired – Click through Each Lookbook

For the latest information and resources on Covid-19, visit the BCCDC.