Plastic straws, forks, stir sticks could be phased out in 2023 under new B.C. bill

The B.C. government's new legislation, announced Oct. 26, 2021, aims to crack down on single-use plastic products and some plastic packaging. File / Global News

The B.C. government is expanding the range of single-use plastic products and packaging it can regulate and ban across the province.

Plastic straws, stir sticks and utensils will be added to the list, which currently includes packaging materials like plastic checkout bags and single-use foam takeout containers.

The new legislation was announced Tuesday and accompanying regulations are expected in 2023.

“We have heard the call for more direct action to reduce plastic debris and its impact on the environment and wildlife,” said Environment Minister George Heyman in a news release.

“These changes mean we will expedite the actions under the CleanBC Plastic Action Plan to create a cleaner, stronger future for everyone.”

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Phase-out programs will be based on the “economic impacts of any bans” said the government’s news release.

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According to the province, an estimated 340,000 tonnes of plastic waste were thrown out in B.C. in 2019 — more than 65 kilograms per person in one year.

The announcement builds on changes announced earlier this summer, allowing municipal governments to ban single-use plastics without its approval, said the news release.

More than 20 local governments now have single-use plastics bylaws in the works, and nine have bylaws in place, including Esquimalt, Nanaimo, Richmond, Surrey, and Victoria.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy also announced a new incentive program for electric vehicle owners on Tuesday, encouraging them to install EV chargers at home.

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Those who install eligible chargers in their apartments, condos or workplaces can receive a rebate up to 50 per cent of the costs to a maximum of $2,000 per charger.

Single-family home dwellers — including those in duplexes and townhouses — can also receive up to 50 per cent of the purchase and installation costs, to a maximum of $350.

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The dual announcements come one day after the province revealed its newest framework for meeting 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The plan aims to accelerate increases to the province’s price on carbon pollution to meet or exceed the federal benchmark. It also requires new oil and gas industry projects to have enforceable plans to meet B.C.’s legislated and sectoral targets, and its goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

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Those measures, and others announced in the framework, were panned by some environmental groups as lacking detail and ambition.

Mark Jaccard, a professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, called it “necessary” and “bold.”

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