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Vancouver’s 25-cent cup fee no longer applies to free drinks

Click to play video: 'Vancouver group calls for B.C.-wide deposit for single-use cups' Vancouver group calls for B.C.-wide deposit for single-use cups
The Binners' Project organizes the annual Coffee Cup Revolution -- refunding people money for cups they've collected in public. The group says Vancouver’s 25-cent fee on single-use cups is costly for low-income people and could be replaced with a province-wide deposit, like the one for bottles and cans. – Mar 14, 2022

Vancouver city council voted to amend a bylaw late Tuesday night to allow restaurant patrons who have a free-drink voucher to no longer have to pay a 25-cent disposable cup fee.

An initial vote ended in a 5-5 draw in Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s absence, but in his last-minute reappearance, the result changed to 7-4 in favour of removing vouchers from the fee program.

“Good that free coffees are exempted from cup fee to support marginalized people,” Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung tweeted out. “Bad .25 cup fee still collected by multinationals.”

Read more: City of Vancouver votes to keep single-use cup fee, with some changes

Council enacted a bylaw on Jan. 1 banning plastic bags and requiring businesses to apply a 25-cent surcharge for single-use cups, as well as a 15-cent fee for paper bags.

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But it became a source of controversy among the city’s homeless and low-income population, some of whom who could no longer use free vouchers for coffee at places like McDonald’s because they’d have to pay the 25-cent fee.

Coun. Rebecca Bligh had also expressed her disapproval, saying the fee has done little to move consumers away from using single-use cups.

In March, council directed staff to exempt free drinks, which led to Tuesday’s vote.

Read more: ‘Enormous difference’: Concern about impact of Vancouver’s new single-use fee on homeless

Businesses are also encouraged, but not required, to reinvest the fees collected into reusable alternatives.

City staff has also been directed to report back next year with a plan to require businesses to provide reusable cups for drinks that are ordered for a sit-down meal, and to offer a reusable cup share program for drinks ordered to go, in a bid to motivate business owners to reinvest the fees.

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Click to play video: 'Reducing waste: Reusable cup share programs offer alternatives to disposable cups' Reducing waste: Reusable cup share programs offer alternatives to disposable cups
Reducing waste: Reusable cup share programs offer alternatives to disposable cups – Jan 22, 2022

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