Single-Use items Bylaw How we are reducing single-use items

Single-use items such as plastic shopping bags, utensils, straws, and napkins are designed to be used only once before being thrown away. By saying “no thanks,” or using reusable options, we will use fewer single-use items. This means that less will be thrown away or end up as litter.

To learn more about The City’s and Government of Canada’s approach to reducing single-use items, see the chart below.

Single-use items are a great opportunity for businesses and Calgarians to reduce their waste.

Why are they a problem

It’s the way we use single-use products.

  • These products are used once then thrown away in the garbage in large amounts.
  • They end up as litter in our streets and parks or in the environment where they can harm our rivers, land and wildlife.
  • These products use significant raw materials and energy to make and dispose of for them to only be used once. 

What can we do about it

The best way to reduce single-use item waste is to stop using them whenever possible.

By refusing single-use items and choosing reusable options, you will use fewer single-use items. This means less will be thrown away in the garbage or end up as litter.

Did you know: Each week in Calgary, millions of single-use items are thrown in the garbage.

The new Single-Use Items Bylaw starts January 16, 2024

The bylaw focuses on items that can easily be avoided or replaced with reusable options. The goal is to reduce single-use items made from all types of materials, not just plastics.

Businesses will need to

  • Charge a minimum fee for new paper and reusable shopping bags.
  • Provide shopping bags by request only.
  • Provide foodware accessories by request only.

Calgarians will need to

  • Bring their own reusable bag or tote when shopping.
  • Ask for foodware accessories as needed, when dining in, taking out or ordering food online.

Understanding the different single-use government policies

Much is being done to help reduce single-use items across Canada. The Government of Canada's approach is to prevent problematic plastics from entering the market through a ban on the manufacture of plastic shopping bags, plastic straws, stir sticks, utensils, foam cups, and other types of plastics that are difficult to recycle.

The City’s new bylaw will reduce waste by encouraging Calgarians to choose reusable options where possible and to only ask for the single-use items they need.

Here’s a chart explaining the difference between the two policies.

Single use item The City of Calgary Approach Government of Canada Approach

Shopping Bags

Bylaw Jan 16, 2024: Mandatory minimum fee on new paper and reusable shoppings bags. Bags available by request only.

Dec 20, 2023 : Ban on sale and provision of single-use plastic shopping bags.

Foodware accessories

(utensils, straws, stir sticks, pre-packaged condiments and napkins)

Bylaw Jan 16, 2024: Single-use foodware accessories available by request only.

Dec 20, 2023 : Ban on sale and provision of single-use plastic utensils, stir sticks and plastic straws (with exemptions.)

Food serviceware

Voluntary initiatives to reduce waste from single-use food serviceware.

Dec 20, 2023 : Ban on sale and provision of single-use food serviceware made from: foam, black plastic, PVC and oxo-degradable plastic.

Disposable cups

Voluntary initiatives to reduce waste from single-use cups.

Dec 20, 2023 : Ban on sale and provision of single-use foam cups.

Purpose of policy

Reducing single-use items by avoiding them, asking for items as needed or choosing reusable options. Eliminate problematic and hard to recycle plastics.

We all benefit when there is less single-use item waste

Beautify our city

Communities and public spaces are more enjoyable with less single-use litter.

Respect our land

Reduces negative environmental impacts to our water bodies, land and wildlife.

Save on costs

When customers use less items, it helps businesses cut down costs.

By not automatically including straws, utensils and condiments in a customer’s order, businesses will use up less quantities of these items. It also reduces costs associated with managing waste within the business.

Revenues from bag fees will be kept by businesses to help offset the cost of new paper and reusable bags.