Banff Town Council passed a bylaw this week to bolster practices many businesses have voluntarily initiated, as part of a town-wide strategy to reduce the consumer use of items like plastic shopping bags, disposable cutlery and coffee cups that are used once, then sent to landfill.
“Banff has demonstrated incredible voluntary leadership when it comes to diverting waste, and now it’s time to take more prescribed efforts towards our goal of eliminating all waste going to landfill by 2050,” said Corrie DiManno, Mayor of Banff. “We are excited for this bylaw to support public education on the importance of reducing single-use items and to build upon the grassroots programs we currently have in place to remove disposables from our consumer waste stream.
“The fact is, our municipality spends a lot of time and energy emptying pedestrian bins filled with single-use consumer items, sorting disposables that contaminate our recycling and composting bins, and cleaning litter from our streets. This simply isn't befitting of a town located in Canada's first national park, especially with wildlife and sensitive ecosystems surrounding us. We know we can do better to make real change.”
The Single-Use Items Reduction Bylaw targets items that are used once then are thrown away, and helps businesses fully transition to serving customers with reusables. Unlike other jurisdictions, the bylaw does not target plastics, but helps the community reduce all service items that are quickly discarded, and return to a time when people regularly used food ware and shopping bags that were reused many times.
Effective July 1, 2023, the bylaw requires businesses such as coffee shops, restaurants and bars to serve food and beverages without disposable accessories like plastic straws and utensils, cup lids and pre-packaged condiments. Customers must request these items. Businesses can offer self-serve stations for disposable accessories, but must also offer reusable items.
Also starting July 1, businesses and event organizers serving food or beverages must accommodate customers who ask to be served using reusable cups and containers that customers bring with them.
Effective January 1, 2024, plastic shopping bags are banned. Businesses and event organizers must not provide NEW plastic shopping bags to customers, and must allow customers to use their own bags for shopping. Businesses may provide paper (minimum 40% recycled) or reusable bags, if requested, and businesses must charge a minimum fee on paper ($0.25) and reusable ($2) bags to motivate customers to bring their own.
Also starting in 2024, dine-in food and beverages must be served in reusables. Businesses ranging from fast-food restaurants to fine dining establishments and bars must provide reusable food ware, such as plates, bowls, glasses, cups, cutlery and other accessory items, for any food or beverages consumed on the premises.
Starting immediately, all NEW businesses that serve food and beverages ready for consumption must have suitable dishwashing facilities to clean the reusable food ware, and provide adequate seating (minimum of 10 seats) for consumption on the premises. This means that new businesses that want to offer take-away service only will no longer be permitted in Banff. Starting in 2024, all existing businesses will need to comply with this requirement, or apply for an exemption.
Banff’s Single-Use Item Reduction bylaw follows other jurisdictions in the U.S. and Europe that have introduced requirements for reusables for on-site dining. However, it is one of the first municipalities in Canada to introduce the requirement, along with the City of Edmonton, which requires reusable cups for dine-in, along with several smaller municipalities in Quebec.
The Town will explore additional support programs in 2023 to incentivize businesses to comply with bylaw requirements and reward additional leadership actions. Incentives could entail an expansion to the existing commercial dishwasher rebate program and providing funding for expenses associated with transitioning to reusables.
To review the Bylaw and other details on the single-use reduction strategy, visit banff.ca/SingleUseItems