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Plastic bag, straw ban could mean big hit for Vancouver's small businesses: expert

Last Updated Nov 28, 2019 at 11:02 am PDT

FILE: A shopper leaves a grocery store carrying his groceries in plastic bags Tuesday, August 30, 2016 in Brossard, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Summary

City council in Vancouver has voted to phase in a plastic ban, and one expert says this could impact small businesses

Muriel Protzer with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is concerned with the quick pace of the shift

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Policies that ensure we use less plastic are a good thing, but a small business group says it needs to be done at an appropriate speed.

Vancouver city council voted to phase in a ban on plastic bags and straws, and while they have been slow in putting together a timeline, the major changes will result in a total ban on plastic shopping bags by 2021 and a charge of 25 cents for paper bags after it’s implemented.

Muriel Protzer with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is concerned with the quick pace of the shift and says small operations will take a much larger hit in comparison to big box stores.

RELATED: Vancouver’s ban on plastic straws and foam takeout containers may be delayed until next year

“For small businesses, it’s a lot harder for them to pass those costs on to their customers. For big businesses, they have economies of scale. They have all these greater flexibilities than small businesses have,” she says.

“This is something that small businesses care greatly about, [with] 70 per cent even supporting a ban on single use plastics. But it’s really important that we get this rollout right, we have available alternatives and they aren’t imposing massive costs on our small businesses that push them out.”

Protzer says the transition needs to happen at an appropriate pace.

“Of those who do offer single-use plastic items to the public, 30 per cent have said that it is going to be a significant challenge for them to face. That is quite a lot of small businesses we’re looking at.”

She also questions the need for individual cities to move on this issue, pointing out the province and federal government are doing their own examinations of plastic use.