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Vancouver bans plastic bags, straws, foam containers and other single use items

shutterstock_700694767Vancouver is bringing in bans on the use of plastic bags, straws and other single-use items, while introducing what the city believes to be a first-of-its-kind fee for disposable cups in the country.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart says bylaws passed by city council balance public demand for action on disposable items with the needs of those with disabilities and the business community.

“We have heard loud and clear that reducing waste from single-use items is important to residents and that bold action is needed,” Stewart said Thursday in a news release.

Under the new rules, plastic and compostable plastic straws will be banned on April 22, but food vendors must provide bendable straws upon request to meet an accessibility requirement. A one-year extension has been granted to allow plastic straws served with bubble tea, allowing more time for the market to provide alternatives.

Single-use utensils can only be given out when requested.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, plastic and compostable plastic shopping bags will also be prohibited.

Retailers can still provide paper bags, but they must contain at least 40% recycled content. Shoppers will be charged a fee of 15 cents for each paper bag in the first year, then 25 cents a bag after that.

The fees for buying reusable bags will be $1 in 2021 and $2 beginning the next year.

Disposable cups will also come with a 25-cent fee.

“The bylaws are crucial in reducing waste and litter,” said Monica Kosmak, the city’s senior project manager on the plan.

Each week in Vancouver, 2.5 million paper cups and two million plastic shopping bags are thrown out. Over the course of a year, 25 million to 30 million plastic straws also end up in landfills, she said.

Estimating exactly how much waste will be diverted is difficult, however. The city expects the effects of the bans to be significant and Kosmak said studies have shown fees on paper bags reduce their use by 80 to 90%.

Kosmak said Berkeley, Calif., has a disposable cup fee but she believes Vancouver is the first city in Canada to introduce one.

“We are breaking new ground with the fees on disposable cups so we’ll be monitoring that to see how effective it is,” she said.

Each business will keep the mandatory fees it collects.

The new rules join a previously approved bylaw that takes effect on Jan. 1 that prohibits foam cups and takeout containers.

The city has posted toolkits to help businesses and charities prepare for the bans.

But the rules irk some members of the business community. Greg Wilson, director of B.C. government relations with the Retail Council of Canada, said they are cumbersome and complex.

The burden on small businesses is disproportionate, he said, giving the example of a bike repair company that typically gives out fewer than 100 plastic bags a year. Switching to paper bags means they have to reprogram their point-of-sale register to display a separate line for the bag fee, then reprogram it again next year when the fee goes up. They are also required to report the number of single-use items they distribute to customers.

“For a big business, those reprogramming costs, those reporting costs, they’re not overly significant. But for a small independent business, those are very significant,” he said.

Vancouver’s plastic bag rules are also different than neighbouring jurisdictions, which is confusing for consumers and also businesses with stores in multiple municipalities, Wilson said.

“You have something that is very complex and not harmonized with surrounding jurisdictions,” he said.

Kosmak said Vancouver’s plastic bag bylaws closely resemble 12 of the 14 B.C. municipalities that have developed or are developing similar rules.


Best of the West: Highlights from Convenience U

New venue, quality attendees, and well-rounded list of exhibitors headlines Greater Vancouver Convenience U CARWACS Show

Attendees from across Western Canada gathered at Tradex in Abbotsford, B.C. to celebrate the convenience, gas and car wash sectors at the first Greater Vancouver Convenience U CARWACS Show last week.  

The two-day event brought together leading suppliers to the trade, who came to display and network in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

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With the tremendous growth in the Lower Mainland, show organizers wanted to provide an opportunity for operators and suppliers to gather closer to home.

Screen Shot 2019-11-05 at 3.38.21 PMInside the hall, VPX Products supported a high-energy stage presentation that generated a powerful pulsing heartbeat with the Bang Energy Team on stage.

The show offered a solid mix of suppliers from the three key sectors (c-store, gas, car wash), with attendees coming from not just the Vancouver area, but also other areas of British Columbia, Alberta and regions east. 

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According to Dan Rossignol, regional sales manager, CAF Outdoor Cleaning, the company has been successful in past Convenience U CARWACS Shows in attracting just the right customers to the booth. For example, CAF was able to meet up with a team from Federated Cooperatives at the Toronto event. Now, Rossignol tells OCTANE that the Vancouver show helped them attract interest from another major chain in attendance.

TMS was also excited to display at the Vancouver show.  At their booth, global sales manager Rick Trotter showed off a new product that allows independent fuel retailers to now offer dispenser products with innovative additives that are competitive with major gasoline brands. 

CCA delivers value with sessions

The Canadian Carwash Association (CCA) was front and centre at the event. Both days, the CCA provided educational opportunities to attendees in the form of insightful sessions and a three-site bus tour of leading car wash locations in Langley, B.C.—7-Eleven, Washworld and SpeedWash.

7-Eleven stepped up to provide an entertaining stop. At this site, tour attendees were greeted by the retailer’s Slurpee mascot, a very cool food truck offering key 7-Eleven products and promotions, as well as the Mark VII Choice Wash. Reports from on-hand staff tell OCTANE that 78% of customers use the top wash selection at this site, with vehicles coming through with a hand-polished look to the shine. Customers are attracted by LED lighting that shines through a full-length window wall and monthly through-put is clocking 1,500 to 3,500 washes at this single express tunnel.

At Washworld, the location supports an eight-bay wand wash, as well as two tunnel washes where customers can choose between touch and touch-less functions. Like 7-Eleven, the Washworld site also uses a Mark VII Choice Wash system. Washworld operations manager Vince Deo says that the location opened in 2003 and is part of a seven-unit car wash group.

SpeedWash was the next stop. Located on the Fraser Highway just minutes away from Washworld, cars here are cleaned fast. In fact, vehicles come off the line every four minutes. At this very busy car wash location quick thinking staffers are key to keeping lines moving.

On the second day, the CCA presented morning education sessions. Well-attended, the sessions offered insights from Colorado-based Breeze Thru Car Wash, as well as the CCA.

Staff from Breeze Thru told attendees about their innovative HR programs that seek to mentor workers, helping them reach personal and work goals, while targetting reducing turnover. This company attracts better applicants with a higher starting wage and even offers staff housing. The result has been greater buy-in from workers, who make Breeze Thru a local leader in Colorado and Wyoming.

The CCA capped off the morning with roundtable discussions designed to show the powerful advantages of association membership. Jason Kaye (Bayview Car Wash) and Terry McGowan (Mosaic) teed up questions for the 12 tables in the meeting room. To offer guidance and keep the flow moving, an association member hosted each table. Attendees discovered the power of networking and how the CCA is an advantage that helps to keep wash sites running. “With membership in the CCA operators become part of the bigger picture where networking with colleagues about site challenges is just one of the advantages,” says Kaye.

Pencil in March 3-4, 2020 for the Toronto edition of Canada’s leading trade event for the petroleum retail, car wash and c-store sectors. 

Vancouver votes to demand fossil fuel companies pay for climate change

Vancouver city council has voted in favour of a motion that demands global fossil fuel companies pay their share of costs arising from climate change.

The motion, which passed 7-4, points to a B.C. government report that projects the City of Vancouver will have to spend $1 billion this century to mitigate rising sea levels.

The motion says the city will send letters to 20 of the world’s largest oil, gas and coal companies with its demand.

The city also says it will ask the B.C. and Canadian governments to enact laws to confirm the responsibility of fossil fuel companies to pay their share of costs.

Vancouver says it is the 24th community in British Columbia to pass such a motion since 2017.

The city says those municipal governments represent about one-third of all B.C. residents.


Car Wash Profile: Winning package

BC’s Aadmi Group is showing that good research on wash sites can create a powerhouse profit centre Read more