Single Use Plastic Items Bylaw

On April 20 2021, Council gave second reading to Bylaw 1274-2019, which would regulate the distribution of single-use plastic items by businesses that operate in the Town of Gibsons.

Specifically, the bylaw states that a business may only provide a checkout bag to a customer if:

  1. the customer is first asked if they need a bag;
  2. the bag provided is a paper bag or reusable bag*; and
  3. the customer is charged a fee not less than $0.25 per paper bag and $2.00 per reusable bag.*

* Under the bylaw, a reusable bag is defined as “a bag with handles that is for the purpose of transporting items purchased by the customer from a business, and is designed and manufactured to be capable of at least 100 uses.”

The bylaw would not forbid the use of small paper bags or plastic bags for carrying items such as produce, nuts, candy, small hardware items, baked goods, prescriptions, etc.

Under the bylaw, businesses would also be forbidden from providing customers with plastic drinking straws.

It is proposed that the bylaw, once adopted, would be reviewed every year with a view to expanding the list of single-use items which may not be distributed by businesses.

Timeline for Adoption of Bylaw

To date, Bylaw 1274-2019 has received first and second reading.

Following third reading, the bylaw would be submitted for approval to BC’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, which is expected to take at least three months.

The bylaw would then be adopted by Council, and implemented within the Town on January 1, 2022.

A three-month transitional phase would run from January 1 to March 31, 2022, with enforcement of the bylaw beginning on April 1, 2022.

Rationale

There are several factors which support Council’s adoption of this bylaw.

  1. The Sechelt Landfill is rapidly coming to the end of its life. A recent audit found that by weight 6 – 7% of the total waste going to the landfill from the Town of Gibsons was comprised of recyclable plastic bags.
  2. Plastic bags are difficult to recycle. Less than 1% of all plastic bags are recycled because they tend to get caught up in recycling machinery. According to RecycleBC, this leaves them “so ripped and contaminated there is no market for them.”
  3. Similar bylaws in other places have been proven effective. Many North American jurisdictions have successfully implemented similar bans and found them to be extremely effective in reducing the waste associated with checkout bags. Single-use plastics bans have already been adopted in the BC municipalities of Surrey, Nanaimo, Rossland, Esquimalt, Victoria, Richmond, Saanich, Tofino and Ucluelet.
  4. Alternatives to checkout bags are readily available. It is not onerous for community members to conform to the bylaw. In fact, many local businesses and consumers have already made the switch away from single-use checkout bags and plastic straws.
Share Your Opinion

Council would like to hear from the community on the proposed Single Use Plastic Items bylaw. To share your thoughts, please email: mayorandcouncil@gibsons.ca.