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Vancouver News: Minimum Bag Fees Increase

Vancouver News: Minimum Bag Fees Increase

The minimum prices that Vancouver retailers can charge for shopping bags will increase on New Year’s Day as the city aims to reduce the “tremendous amount” of waste generated by single-use items.

The current rates of 15 cents for paper bags and $1 for reusable bags, which were implemented last January when the city banned plastic checkout bags, will increase to 25 cents and $2, respectively.

Officials said the increased rates are in line with those in other municipalities. They are also in line with rates proposed by the British Columbia government, which has announced plans to implement provincial minimum rates next year, along with a provincewide ban on plastic checkout bags.

Vancouver also has a 25-cent minimum charge for disposable cups, plus a ban on plastic straws and foam packaging – all part of an effort to tackle the large amount of waste generated by non-compostable convenience items.

“Single-use waste is generated in enormous quantities and is a significant component of street and coastal litter,” the City of Vancouver said in an emailed statement.

In 2018 alone, 89 million plastic bags and four million paper grocery bags were thrown away in Vancouver, the statement said.

The cost of bags and cups is not passed on to the government, but is retained by the companies that collect them. However, officials have said that reducing single-use items also has benefits for taxpayers. The city estimates that collecting discarded or littered items costs about $2.5 million annually.

Officials said they have taken steps to soften the impact of higher rates on low-income residents, including a grocery bag donation and distribution program. There are also exemptions for charities and nonprofits.

The federal government is also going to phase out a number of disposable items nationwide. On December 20, a ban came into effect on the production and import for sale of plastic bags, plastic cutlery and other products.

Consumers across the country can expect the items to disappear over the next year as companies deplete their inventories and switch to sustainable alternatives.