Bubble tea business steels for plastic ban

With fears of Richmond introducing a similar plastic straw ban in line with Vancouver, The Bubble Tea Shop has launched reusable stainless steel straws for their customers.

In May, the City of Vancouver voted to ban the distribution of plastic straws as a part of the city’s Zero Waste 2040 Strategy.

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The ban, which will be introduced on June 1, 2019, is problematic for the bubble tea business, as it depends heavily on its wide, colourful plastic straws.

Biodegradable paper straws are not the best alternative as they often become soft and mushy and difficult for users to drink the tapioca pearls in bubble tea.

“This (reusable straw) was always something in the back of our minds, we eventually had to do it,” said Ivanna Chan, owner of The Bubble Tea (BBT) Shop, underneath Canadian Superstore on No. 3 Road.

Plastic straws are still being used in-store but customers have the option to purchase the new straws and reuse them for future bubble tea purchases.

The reusable straws come in two different sizes and various colours such as rose gold, black and chrome.

Retailing at $3.50 for the bigger size - which is used for traditional bubble tea - and $3 for the smaller one, each straw also comes with a cleaning brush.

“I’m surprised not more stores are on it,” said Chan.

“The bubble tea business is very hard, now that there are so many stores in Richmond, but we try to be innovative and come up with new things.”

Since posting their new straws online only a few days ago, The BBT Shop has gained a lot of positive attention on social media amongst their environmentally-conscious fans.

Although the BBT Shop may be the first ones to introduce stainless steel straws, many restaurants in Steveston have already switched to using compostable ones after eight-year-old Shay Soo gave heartfelt presentations to businesses about the harmful damage plastic straws are causing to the environment.

The BBT Shop is also planning to open a new location in Olympic Village, Vancouver in the coming weeks. 

“In the end, you’re just trying to help the environment,” added Chan.

The Richmond News asked the City of Richmond if they intend to follow Vancouver’s lead on the plastic straw ban.

At the time of writing, the city had yet to respond.

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