FAQs - Single Use Plastics

The City of Courtenay has introduced new requirements to reduce single use plastics entering the regional waste stream and the environment.


  1. What is the Single Use Plastics Bylaw?

    Through this bylaw, Courtenay joins a number of other communities asking local businesses and consumers to join the world-wide movement away from single use plastics.

    The idea is to start with single use plastic checkout bags and plastic drinking straws provided by businesses to patrons. When straws are provided by restaurants or other food establishments, they must be made from a material other than plastic.

    Businesses are still permitted to provide bags to customers constructed of:

    1. paper, or
    2. washable fabric, designed for at least 100 uses, with handles,


    There are several exemptions to the regulations for hygiene or other reasons where a suitable alternative product is not currently available.  Single use plastics are exempt from the regulation when used to:

    • package loose bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, and candy
    • package loose small hardware items such as nails and bolts
    • contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, poultry, or fish, whether pre-packaged or not
    • wrap flowers or potted plants
    • protect prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged
    • contain prescription drugs received from a pharmacy
    • protect large items that cannot easily fit in a Reusable Bag
    • protect clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning

    Other products not affected include pre-packaged bags or straws sold in multiples and intended for use in the customer’s home, small paper bags (under 15cm x 20cm) and paper or reusable bags previously used by a customer and returned to the store for reuse.  

  2. When does the Single Use Plastics Bylaw take effect?

    The bylaw will take effect March 31, 2020 but will not be enforced pending more certainty of the regulatory approaches of the Provincial and Federal Governments. See this resolution for more detail:

    While the City still encourages the transition away from single use plastics, Council has passed the following resolution:

    That based on the December 16, 2019 staff report “Single Use Plastics Regulation Bylaw 2970, 2019 – Enforcement Provisions”, Council direct staff not to enforce Bylaw 2970, 2019 beginning March 31, 2020, pending more certainty of the regulatory approaches of the Provincial and Federal Governments; and

    That Council direct staff to post notice on the City of Courtenay website advising that the City of Courtenay will not enforce penalties for committing an offence on the effective date identified in Section 8 of Bylaw No. 2970, 2019; pending the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on the validity of Victoria's plastic bag bylaw, and/or the outcome of the regulatory approaches proposed by the Provincial and Federal Governments.

  3. Where will the bylaw be implemented?

    At the till, businesses will be required to charge a minimum fee to provide a checkout bag to their customers. Paper and reusable bags will be no less than $0.25 and $1.00 each respectively.  These fees are to be retained by the retailer to offset the cost of providing paper or reusable bags. 

  4. Why has Courtenay regulated single use plastics?

    Many studies have identified the negative effects plastics have on the environment and regional waste collection and processing operations. Single use plastics are a contributing factor in waste gathered from shorelines, parks and City streets. A reduction in plastics use can lead to a cleaner natural environment and a reduction in the resources necessary to collect and process single use items.