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 is effective July 1, 2019 but provides for a phasing-in period of nine months. This will allow local businesses time to source alternative products, run out current inventories and provide residents time to transition to reusable shopping containers prior to official implementation on March 31, 2020.

  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.