Person carries white plastic bags outdoors

Find out what's coming up in the development of the City's Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy. 

The City of Surrey is taking action to reduce and eliminate the negative impacts single-use items have on our streets and environment, while reducing landfill waste.

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In December 2020, Council passed the Plastic Bags and Single-Use Items Bylaw for the first, second and third readings. The Bylaw proposes:

  • banning plastic checkout bags (including compostable and biodegradable);
  • introducing a charge of $0.25 per paper checkout bag and $2.00 per reusable checkout bag; and
  • banning Polystyrene foam cups, take-out containers, plates and bowls.

In February 2021, The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy approved the Plastic Bags and Single-Use Items Bylaw

The Bylaw will be brought forward to Council for final adoption later in 2021. The motion will include a recommended implementation date.

The City’s action to reducing single-use items was strongly supported by Surrey residents. Early survey results indicated that there is:

  • 83% support for bans to reduce plastic checkout bags
  • 86% support for bans on foam cups and take-out containers

Next Steps

To support the business community, the City will be involved in several next steps:

  1. Engaging the community and businesses to help support the transition away from single-use items.
  2. Developing a communications plan and education outreach initiative to help ease the transition to reusable or recyclable options. The plan will include tips on how to determine what will work for their needs.
  3. Continuing to develop tools, resources and other materials for use during the transition phase while timing for the Bylaw is determined.

Understanding Single-Use Items

Single-use items are products and packaging that get thrown away after one use. These include takeout containers, disposable cups, utensils, plastic straws, plastic bags, and plastic water bottles.

These items are produced in significant amounts. Their increased use is due to convenience, transportation of goods, food safety, cost savings and durability.

It is estimated that people dispose of more than 1.1 billion single-use items in Metro Vancouver each year, with an estimated 76 million sent to landfill annually from Surrey. This is equal to 440 items per person. A recent audit of waste in Surrey estimated that each year, we throw away approximately:

  • Plastic Checkout Bags: 26.6 million
  • Disposable Cups: 12.5 million
  • Takeout Containers: 12.4 million
  • Foam Takeout Cups and Containers: 7.3 million

Problems Associated with Single-Use Items

The use of single-use items results in:

  • increased energy and resource consumption,
  • scattered litter,
  • illegal dumping,
  • increased costs to collect from public spaces, and
  • increased landfill waste.

Additionally, these items are not all recyclable or compostable. They can also end up in waterways, contaminating the water and impacting fish and marine life.

Provincial and Federal Advancements

All levels of government are undertaking initiatives focused on managing single-use items. In Canada, there is a mix of regulatory authority over the use of single-use items and the waste they create. Each level of government has a role to play in the future management of single-use item waste.

The federal government is taking steps toward reducing and/or eliminating plastic pollution in Canada. This includes proposing to regulate single-use items across Canada as early as 2021. They are developing an integrated management approach to plastics. The approach will involve various regulatory and non-regulatory instruments including, but not limited to, bans and restrictions, establishing performance standards, and ensuring end-of-life responsibility.

As of December 2020, they have identified an initial list of six items that meet the requirements for banning or restricting. These include plastic checkout bags, stir sticks, 6-pack rings, takeout containers, straws and cutlery.

The provincial government has developed the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan to tackle plastics. Planners are investigating bans on single-use packaging, reducing plastics overall, recycling more plastics, and ensuring plastic bottles are returned.

In their 2019 consultation, the province highlighted:

  • bans to regulate the sale or use of certain plastic packaging; and
  • disposal bans as typical approaches to banning single-use items.

They also identified items such as polystyrene foam in packaging, takeout containers, and cups, as well as plastic checkout bags.

The City of Surrey has been active in the consultation processes. We will work with the provincial and federal governments to align our bylaw.

Contact

If you have any questions, please contact rethinkwaste@surrey.ca.

See our Zero Waste Strategy and Sorting Waste pages to learn more about our waste reduction efforts.