New federal and B.C. restrictions on single-use plastics now in effect

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Plastic cutlery is pictured in North Vancouver, B.C. Monday, June, 10, 2019.

Picking up takeout food may start to look a little different after new regulations from the federal and B.C. government came into effect.

The federal and B.C. governments both chose the same day to bring in the new restrictions — Dec. 20.

“Who picked Dec. 20?” Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association said. “You would think they’d just go ‘let’s just start a fresh year, let’s do January when business is slow, people have got time.'”

The new federal regulations prohibit the manufacture, import and sale of checkout bags, cutlery, food service ware, stir sticks and straws. The straw ban excludes flexible straws that are not packaged with beverage containers.

Foodservice ware covers containers designed for serving or transporting food or beverage ready to be consumed made in a variety of plastic or polystyrene.

The B.C. regulations change how single-use plastic items are made available when ordering takeout.

Prior to the regulations, takeout and delivery often included items like cutlery and condiments as standard, but now establishments must only provide them upon request.

A ban of plastic utensils and pre-packed bundled food service accessories also came into effect. Utensils must now be biodegradable, for instance wood.

At takeout, establishments can only give out by request utensils, cup lids and sleeves, staws, condiments, napkins, wet wipes, and garnishes.

“I think the biggest issue is going to be for business owners that have to stop everything and sit down and talk to their staff and educate them in all this,” Tostenson said.

Tostenson says he thinks the changes for environmental reasons are good, he just would have preferred the rollout didn’t take place during the busy Christmas period.

Though Hey Happy Coffee voluntarily made the switch long before the regulations, the owner says his peers were unaware of the changes coming into effect.

“I’ve checked around with some of my peers and nobody seems to have had any notification,” Rob Kettner said.

These changes come a little over a month after the Federal Court ruled that Ottawa overstepped its bounds in designating all plastic manufactured items as toxic, but the federal government is confident its bans on certain items will be allowed to proceed.

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