B.C. government will approve municipal bylaws banning single-use plastics
Published Saturday, September 12, 2020 1:48PM PDT Last Updated Saturday, September 12, 2020 7:41PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Bylaws banning single-use plastics in Victoria, Richmond, Saanich, Tofino and Ucluelet will soon have provincial approval, B.C.'s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced Saturday.
The announcement from minister George Heyman comes after a public consultation on plastic waste that generated more than 35,000 responses.
In addition to approving the bylaws proposed in those municipalities, the province will be considering other bylaws as they are submitted and working to develop a province-wide framework for implementing bans on single-use plastic items, said Heyman at a news conference Saturday.
During his remarks, the minister referenced Victoria's plastic bag ban, which the city council approved in December 2017, and which took effect in June 2018, only to be struck down by the B.C. Court of Appeal last year.
The Canadian Plastic Bag Association challenged the Victoria bylaw, arguing that the city didn't have the authority to ban a product from distribution or financially impact manufacturers.
Heyman said the province's formal approval of the bylaws in Victoria and elsewhere would allow the municipalities in question to implement bans on plastic bags and other single-use items on their own timelines.
"In addition, we're going to make a change to the Community Charter," Heyman said. "We'll introduce a regulation - it'll take six to eight months to develop it - to allow local governments to ban certain single-use items - whether it's shopping bags, straws, foam takeout containers - without the need for provincial approval."
Heyman said he doesn't expect any legal challenges because the province is working toward giving municipalities the power to create and implement their own bylaws, which would need to allow for some single-use products.
As of January 2023, B.C. will expand the number of products that can be recycled through recycling programs to include items like plastic cutlery, stir sticks and sandwich bags.
The province is also exploring ways to add other material to its recycling programs, especially in the northern and Interior regions of the province, including mattresses, propane canisters, electric-vehicle batteries and fishing gear, Heyman said.
A standardized 10-cent deposit will be implemented on beverage containers at Return-It depots and milk and milk alternative containers will be recyclable there as of February 2022, the environment minister said.
The return system will also be modernized to allow for refunds to be processed electronically.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan and The Canadian Press