Many Richmond businesses are in support of the city’s new ban on single-use plastics, according to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, but the biggest concern is the cost of alternative products.
When the ban was initially proposed in 2019, the chamber surveyed members and the business community, and found that most were supportive of the idea – although there were concerns around cost and lead time to make the transition.
“That’s generally been the biggest concern for a lot of people, is the cost. At this point, the alternatives to plastic are more expensive so that is a concern for businesses when they think about it,” said Dan Baxter, chamber president and CEO.
“So that’s where we’re trying to come up with creative and innovative ways to try to support the business community in this, because we recognized that cost is an issue. But we recognize that they also want to do their part for the environment and that’s where we think we have a unique (role) to play.”
The chamber, along with the city, partnered to offer a free, drop-in trade show to help connect Richmond businesses with vendors that supply sustainable products, many of which are paper-based.
Baxter said he hopes the chamber will also be able to help connect Richmond businesses with each other at the event, if they are looking to purchase a sustainable product from a vendor – meaning they may be able to team up and place a larger order which could help reduce some of the cost.
The city also has a booth at the event to provide information about the new bylaw.
The city adopted its new “Single-Use Plastic and Other Items Bylaw” last month, which will see foam food containers, plastic straws and plastic checkout bags – including biodegradable and compostable plastics – banned in Richmond as of March 27, 2022.
The ban applies to all businesses operating in Richmond.
The six-month period before the bylaw comes into effect will give businesses the time to use up stock and transition to alternatives, according to the city.
Furthermore, while the bylaw will come into effect next March, it won’t be enforced until September 2022.
That means, said Baxter, that businesses have the time to get the appropriate alternatives in place without worrying about having to pay a fine right away if they do make a mistake along the way.
The trade show is also acting as a pilot, said Baxter, and if it’s successful and the city wants to partner again, then the chamber may look to hosting a similar event in the new year to help businesses transition away from plastics before the bylaw comes into effect.
The trade show is being held at the Sandman Signature Hotel and Resort today (Oct. 20) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It was also held yesterday.
The event is accessible on a drop-in basis and is free to attend.