Municipalities in B.C. can now enact bans on single-use plastic items, including shopping bags without provincial approval.
An amendment to the province’s Community Charter grants municipalities the new freedom. Local governments can now ban checkout bags, foam containers and plastic utensils without approval.
“Communities across B.C. have made it clear they want to be environmental leaders by taking steps to ban single-use plastics,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “We will continue to work with all levels of government to protect our land and waterways from plastic pollution and the harm it creates.”
More than 20 municipalities in the province are developing bylaws to ban single-use plastics. Under the previous regulation, bylaws were approved for the municipalities of Esquimalt, Nanaimo, Richmond, Rossland, Saanich, Surrey, Tofino, Ucluelet and Victoria.
“Researchers have found plastic just about everywhere they have looked, from deep sea sediment to our shorelines. This pollution is a threat to our health, the economy and marine life – from zooplankton to beluga whales,” said Laura Hardman, director of plastics for Ocean Wise. “By giving municipalities the ability to act swiftly to enact bans on unnecessary plastics, this amendment will support the systemic change we need to stop plastic pollution.”
Nanaimo’s ban on single use plastic shopping bags came into effect in July.