Single-Use Item Regulations

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See Single Use Item Bylaw No. 1277

Tofino's Single Use Item Bylaw was adopted on October 13, 2020. The new bylaws include a ban on polystyrene foam packaging for prepared foods (beginning April 13, 2020) and accessibility clauses for persons requiring the use of plastic straws (in effect immediately). 

Learn more: Single Use Item Bylaw Amendments

COVID-19 Update

BCCDC Guidance Link:

The BCCDC has provided guidance for businesses related to:

  • Reusable beverage containers
  • Takeout containers
  • Reusable bags
  • ETC.

Contact Surfrider for guidance and ideas on resuming operations in a green way.

Single Use Item Bylaw

Key Elements of the West Coast approach:

  • No plastic bags, plastic straws or polystyrene foam for prepared foods may be sold or provided by businesses (see exemptions below);
  • Bylaw prohibits “Biodegradable” or “Compostable” plastic bags and straws - these materials contaminate existing recycling streams and do not adequately decompose in a landfill or the environment;
  • Regulations avoid rebound to excessive paper and reusable bags by adding a minimum price of no-less than 25 cents for paper, and $2.00 for reusable bags (these fees are kept by businesses - not remitted to the District of Tofino);


  • Plastic Bag Exemptions :
    • to package loose bulk items;
    • contain or wrap fresh or frozen meat, poultry or fish;
    • wrap flowers;
    • protect baked goods and non-packaged foods;
    • contain prescription drugs;
    • contain large items that cannot easily fit into a reusable bag;
    • Plastic bags that have already been used by a customer and that have been returned to the business for the purpose of being reused by other customers can be distributed.
  • Plastic Straw Exemption:
    • Businesses may provide plastic straws provide to those who require them, upon request, in order to ensure maximum accessibility
  • Polystyrene Foam Exemptions: 
    • Prohibitions on polystyrene foam do not apply to hospitals or community care facilities, or to foam trays used for uncooked meat, poultry, seafood, or other food that requires further preparation.

The District is committed to working with our partners to educate businesses and the public and continuing to advocacte to higher levels of government.

Resources for Businesses: 

Click the images below for full versions. 

What Businesses Need to Know What Staff Need to Know

Poster for Download

Tip Sheet For Residents

Note to Businesses: Surfrider Pacific Rim is available to discuss alternatives to plastics with businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet. Email to discuss and learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is reducing the amount of single-use items important?
  • The average Canadian uses between 200-300 bags each year.  Similarly, approximately 57 million straws are used in Canada every day - which either end up in municipal waste streams or as litter in public places and the environment.
  • Each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean - which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.
  • Around the world, plastic bags are consistently listed as a top ten item found littered on beaches.
  • By reducing the creation of waste from single-use items and the associated municipal costs, the District of Tofino will be able to better steward municipal property, including sewers, streets, parks, beaches and waterways.  
What types of businesses are affected by the Bylaw?

All business operating in the District of Tofino are subject to the provsions of the Bylaw.

What type of items are regulated under the Single-Use Items Regulation Bylaw?

The Bylaw prohibits businesses from providing customers with single-use plastic bags, plastic drinking straws, and polystyrene foam containers for prepared foods (subject to some exemptions).  

Under the Bylaw, businesses are able to provide customers with paper checkout bags for a minimum charge of $0.25, and reusable checkout bags for a minimum charge of $2.00.  

In addition to conventional plastic bags and straws, the Bylaw also prohibits plastic bags and straws marketed as "biodegradable" or "compostable" as these plastics do not degrade readily without industrial compost facilities (not available on the coast), and damage recycling and processing equipment when mistaken for and mixed with conventional plastic bags and straws.

What are the exemptions to the proposed Bylaw?

Exemptions include:

  • Bags for loose bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, and candy;
  • Bags for loose small hardware items, including nails and bolts;
  • Bags that contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, poultry, or fish, whether pre-packaged or not;
  • Wrapping for flowers or potted plants;
  • Bags that protect prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged
  • Bags that contain prescription drugs received from a pharmacy
  • Bags that protect linens, bedding, or other similar large items that cannot easily fit in a reusable bag

Plastic Drinking Straws may be provided by request to customers with an accessibility need, and customers are not required to provide any medical information to prove their need.

The Bylaw does not apply to the sale of plastic bags intended for use at the customer's home or business (i.e. garbage bags, recycling bags, sandwich bags), nor to the sale of plastic drinking straws intended for use in the customer's home.  The intent of the bylaw is to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags used for transporting goods from a business to the home.

The Bylaw also proposes to permit plastic bags to be distributed that have already been used by a customer and that have been returned to the business for the purpose of being reused by other customers.

How do you define "Reusable Bag"?

"Reusable Bag" is defined as a bag with handles that is for the purpose of transporting items purchased by the customer from a Business and is designed and manufactured to be capable of at least 100 uses.

We encourage Businesses to consider the environmental impacts of any reusable bags they are supplying to customers. Over-consumption of paper and reusable bags is not the answer, and we encourage businesses to promote "BYOBag" culture wherever possible.

Check out our Tips for BusinessesTips for Frontline Staff and Template Social Media Posts for ideas!

Can businesses provide paper or reusable bags for free?

No - In order to discourage the proliferation of paper and reusable bags, businesses need to first ask whether the customer needs a bag, and charge a minimum of $0.25 per paper bag, and $2.00 per reusable bag. 

When did the Bylaw come into effect?

Provisions regarding polystyrene come into effect April 13, 2021. All other regulations are now in force.

Tofino's first Single Use Item Bylaw was effective as of June 8, 2019, (World Ocean's Day) with a phased-in period to allow businesses to use up stock, educate customers, and find new suppliers.  Enforcement provisions (fines) began January 1, 2020. 

A revised Bylaw which prohibits polystyrene foam containers for prepared foods, and provides an exemption for those with diverse abilities was adopted October 13, 2020.

How will this Bylaw be enforced?

The District of Tofino's primary focus will be on developing education and awareness.  We will work with retailers to promote compliance before moving to enforcement. 

After an initial phase-in period, the District will begin administering fines between $50 and $300.

Get Involved!

Stay in touch by subscribing to our District email list here.


Elyse Goatcher-Bergmann
Manager of Corporate Services
(T) (250) 725-3229 ext. 610