On Vancouver’s new cup and bag bans, and associated fees

January 1, 2022 saw the introduction of Vancouver’s new bylaws and fees designed to reduce the use and waste of single use items and very specifically plastic bags and disposable cups.

Vancouver’s bag ban was originally proposed for 2021 but postponed; giving business/supply-chains well over a year to prepare. Our neighbours Richmond, Surrey, Victoria and Nanaimo have all introduced bans, joining Washington, California, and coastal communities worldwide.

From France to China, and Australia to Africa, lightweight plastic bag bans have been introduced and for good reason – cheap disposable plastics are choking our oceans and breaking down into micro and nano particles that are ending up in literally everything, even body cells.


Of course, not every plastic bag is ocean-destined to suffocate a seaturtle, but the dirty truth is most bags can only be landfilled or incinerated. Inconsistent standards and ingredients mean that recyclable or compostable bags are pretty much a fantasy.

Vancouver may be a bit late to the global plastic bag ban, but we will be one of the first ahead of Canada’s NATIONAL plastics and single use reduction strategy coming this year – among other things, targeting the est. 15 billion plastic bags used every year in our country.

Additional fees that have been introduced in Vancouver’s new bylaws recognize the impacts and alternatives to plastic/plastic-lined disposable cups and (carbon intensive) paper bags. The fees are paid to the retailer, not the city (or planet) – the hope is to change consumer behaviour.