Surrey is the first city in the Metro Vancouver region to effect a ban on plastic checkout bags after council gave its final approval to its Plastic Bags and Single-Use Items Bylaw on Monday, Oct. 18.
“I want to congratulate staff for being the first out of the chute on this in the region,” said Coun. Doug Elford, who sits on the zero waste committee for Metro Vancouver. “I think they’re a little bit jealous.”
Scott Neuman, Surrey’s general manager of engineering, noted in a corporate report before council that businesses primarily affected by this are grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, delis, coffee shops, concessions, street vendors and markets.
“By taking action on plastic bags and styrofoam,” he told council, “the city will eliminate the estimated 25 million plastic checkout bags and seven million foam containers and cups currently used annually throughout Surrey.”
November and December will see continued community outreach and education, with bylaw enforcement and ticketing to begin in January. As of Jan. 1, Neuman says, enforcement “will consist of a slow transition from compliance audits to warnings prior to the issuance of fines and penalties” and “after this date, staff will utilize a gradual and discretionary enforcement approach with business that continue to be non-compliant.”
“I believe we need to motivate and educate rather than condemn,” Coun. Laurie Guerra said, “and inspire individuals to do the right thing when it comes to protecting our environment.”
Council gave final approval to a new regulating bylaw to ban the “commercial provision and commercial distribution of plastic checkout bags, foam cups, and foam take out containers, with exceptions.”
Coun. Mandeep Nagra said he would like city hall “to play more ads on South Asian radio so that the whole South Asian community is aware of the new changes.”
Mayor Doug McCallum said he’s been thinking “for years” that “we need to cut back on these shopping bags and so-forth.
“Anyone that’s seen pictures of all the plastic bags in a big huge pile in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, if you see that, you’ll just see what the results are of these type of plastic bags when they get out into the environment and don’t break down.”