BC delays new plastic regulations

The BC government has adjusted the rollout of some items under its new Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation until July 15, 2024.

The regulation will limit the use of plastic shopping bags, disposable food service accessories, oxo-degradable plastics, and food-service packaging made of polystyrene foam, PVC, PVDC, compostable and biodegradable plastics. This will mean no plastic shopping bags at checkouts, a small fee for paper and reusable bags and fewer plastics.

The delay has been implemented for items where more time needed to source alternatives, such as PVC film wrap and polystyrene foam trays used for meat, poultry and seafood.

“We want to ensure people have the best options available to effectively transition from single-use plastics,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy.

“We’re working with industry to make good environmental choices easier so British Columbians can use products that decrease pollution and emissions.”

As of December 20, 2023, the province has banned plastic utensils, including spoons, forks, knifes, chopsticks, stir sticks and drink splash plugs, and pre-packed bundled food service accessories.

Customers may still request wooden utensils; cup lids and sleeves; straws; condiments; napkins; wet wipes; and garnishes like plastic sushi grass, or umbrellas for drinks.

On July 15, 2024 the province will ban plastic shopping bags, with a minimum fee on new reusable and paper bags; food-service ware made of biodegradable plastic, polystyrene foam (i.e., Styrofoam), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) materials; film wrap made from biodegradable plastic or PVDC; and all oxo-degradable plastics. At that point limited use of food-service ware and film wrap made from compostable plastic will be allowed.

PVC film wrap will be banned on July 1, 2028, and polystyrene foam trays will be banned as of July 1, 2030.

Phasing out single-use plastics is part of the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan’s goal of changing how plastic is designed and used, from temporary and disposable, to durable and reusable.