Single-use Plastics FAQ

Single Use Plastic FAQs


Why is Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) phasing out single-use plastics?

In tandem with federal and municipal governments across North America, many farmers markets are moving towards the elimination of single-use plastics. As part of our ongoing commitment to cultivating healthy and sustainable communities in the City of Vancouver and beyond, VFM will begin phasing out single-use plastics starting May 2020. We believe this is an important step for the following reasons:

  • To reduce single-use items that are resource-intensive to produce
  • To reduce plastic waste in municipal landfills and cut greenhouse gas emissions
  • To protect marine life and reduce microplastics in seafoods

VFM’s single-use plastics phase out is the next step in our Waste Reduction Plan, which includes the successful elimination of plastic shopping bags in 2008, styrofoam containers in 2014, and take-out non-compostable/recyclable containers in 2017. 

What single-use plastic items are being phased out at VFM?

  • Plastic clamshell containers 
  • Plastic cups and cutlery 
  • Plastic bags on pre-packaged items for produce and baked goods
  • Plastic produce bags (roll bags)

What single-use plastic items will remain in use at VFM?

  • Plastic packaging on food items such as dairy, meat and seafood 
  • Plastic packaging on frozen and vacuum sealed items (i.e. soups, dried fruit) 
  • Resealable plastic containers (eg. dips)

Why aren’t all plastics being phased out at VFM?

Due to Vancouver Coastal Health requirements, certain food items cannot be sold without packaging. Examples of these items include dairy, meat, and seafood products.

When is VFM phasing out single-use plastics?

May 2020: plastic clamshell containers, plastic cups and cutlery

July 2020: plastic bags on pre-packaged items for produce and baked goods

September 2020: plastic produce bags (roll bags)

How does this affect vendors? 

The phasing out of single-use plastics is a major shift that many organizations, businesses, and public institutions are currently grappling with. We recognize the phase out will impact the operations of many of our vendors. While we are committed to working with our vendor community to find new solutions for shopping plastic free at VFM, we are calling upon our shoppers as the most important stakeholder group that can help us support this change.

How can I shop with less plastic?

Many of our shoppers are already plastic-free champions, with a myriad of inventive ways to buy and store their market purchases. We encourage all of our shoppers to bring their own reusable cutlery & straws for ready-to-eat items, containers for squishable items like berries, reusable produce bags for bulk items like lettuce and greens, and tote bags to carry everything home. Stay tuned for plastic free tips and stories on @vanmarkets social coming April 2020.

What do I do if I don’t have my own bag?

Borrow a clean, reusable tote bag (for free) from our Bag Exchange, or purchase a new reusable produce bag or VFM-branded tote bag at the Info Booth.

Where can I donate my reusable bags? Can I donate plastic bags?

Starting March 2020, you can donate clean reusable tote bags to any VFM Info Booth. Unfortunately due to health concerns, we are unable to accept plastic bags for our bag exchange program.

Can I bring my own plastic bag when shopping at VFM markets?

Yes. If you would like to reuse any plastic bags you have from home, you can use them while shopping at the markets. 

Are vendors allowed to use bioplastics?

Bioplastics will not be accepted as a substitute for plastic clamshell containers and plastic bags. The City of Vancouver does not accept bioplastics/compostable plastics in its compost or recycling stream, making these items difficult to dispose of properly. 

Only food trucks and beverage service vendors will be permitted to use bioplastics for cups and cutlery at this time. These vendors are required to take back the bioplastic items at the market and properly dispose of them with a private compost hauler. 

Are vendors allowed to use paper bags?

Yes, some vendors may opt to use paper bags at their stalls. While we recognize that paper bags come with their own carbon footprint, our current focus is reducing plastic waste at the markets. We encourage shoppers to avoid using paper as well as plastic by bringing their own reusable options. 

Who can I contact for questions, comments or feedback about VFM’s single-use plastic phase out?

Email info@eatlocal.org or call 604-879-3276