British Columbia announces new regulations to tackle single-use plastics items

CANADA – The government of British Columbia (BC) has announced new provincial regulation to tackle hard-to-recycle single-use plastic waste, as part of its broader ‘CleanBC Plastics Action Plan’.

Provincial Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman announced details of the new rules, which have been in the works since an intentions paper on the issue was published last April.

Starting in December, single-use items such as plastic shopping bags, disposable food service accessories, oxo-degradable plastics and food service packaging made of polystyrene foam, PVC, PVDC, compostable or biodegradable plastics will no longer be allowed to be sold in B.C.

Heyman said: “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 BC through a healthier environment.

“Focusing on hard-to-recycle single-use and plastic items will help move BC to a circular economy where waste and pollution are eliminated, products and materials are kept in the economy through reuse and natural systems are regenerated.”

Since its initial launch in 2019, the initiative has helped roughly 21 municipalities establish new bylaws to limit single-use plastics in their respective communities.

The federal government is also taking action by prohibiting the manufacturing and importing of six harmful single-use plastic items, including plastic checkout bags, drinking straws, cutlery, stir sticks, ring carriers, and food-service ware made from plastics. Sales of these items will be banned from December 20, 2023.

British Columbia’s regulation goes further in curbing the use of various single-use items, encouraging the adoption of reusable alternatives, and ultimately reducing emissions, water consumption, waste, litter, and pollution associated with disposable products.

By prioritizing reusables over disposables, British Columbia aims to make a positive impact on environmental sustainability.

George V. Harvie, chair, of the Metro Vancouver board of directors, said: “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.”

Many municipalities in Canada have already developed their own rules over the use and distribution of single-use plastics, such as banning plastic bags in favor of reusable bags or fee schemes for replacements.

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