Zero Waste Foodware Strategy

UBC's unique Zero Waste Foodware Strategy is a step toward a zero waste future for food and beverage on campus by reducing single use plastics.

January 2022 Update

The Zero Waste Foodware Strategy became effective end of January 2020. With the onset of the pandemic, normal operations of food and beverage outlets were disrupted, so further UBC activity on this initiative was paused.

With many elements of operations now returning to pre-pandemic practices, e.g. the use of reusable mugs, UBC is resuming engagement with businesses with the goal of all food and beverage businesses aligning with the Strategy requirements, supporting UBC and regional sustainability goals. As of January 2022, the implementation schedule is being reset, making 2022 effectively year one of the Strategy implementation.

As of January 1, 2022, the City of Vancouver’s Single Use Item Strategy and associated by-laws require cup fees, bag fees and some materials bans. While these City of Vancouver policies align closely with UBC’s policies, UBC’s Point Grey campus is outside the jurisdiction of these City of Vancouver policies, and UBC’s Zero Waste Food Ware Strategy is applicable on the campus.

A cup of coffee in a ceramic mug


The campus has demanded change regarding single-use foodware items. With sustainability an important part of our culture, UBC is leading the region in reducing single use plastics through its unique Zero Waste Food Ware Strategy, with three priority areas:

  • Fees for select single use items to encourage the transition to reusable food ware for enjoying food and drink,
  • Smarter, more sustainable materials for single use items, and 
  • Improved in-store recycling bins and signage for customers and staff. 


Download the UBC Zero Waste Food Ware Strategy

What Businesses Need to Know

As of January, 2022, the following requirements apply to food and beverage outlets at the Point Grey campus: 

  • Charge a $0.25 fee for single use cups, and $0.15 for single use (paper) carry bags
  • Fees must be actively communicated to customers
  • No plastic carry bags, no plastic straws (with exceptions for accessibility)
  • No fees are currently required for single use food containers or cutlery
  • Additional requirements for specific single use item materials as per UBC’s guideline.

The following video provides a short overview on which types of single use items and materials should be used at UBC. 

  • The Food Service Ware Procurement Guideline provides the specific requirements for fees and single use items,


  • The Recycling Guidelines for UBC Businesses addresses requirements for recycling bins, signage and staff training.


Support Options for Businesses

As part of strategy implementation, UBC staff are available to help support businesses. This support includes:

  • Being available to meet with food business representatives
  • Answering questions on the strategy and guidelines, including on specific products
  • Offering a “zero waste assessment” to review current food ware products and recycling setups, and make recommendations
  • Provide UBC artwork such as signage and posters

If you would like Choose to Reuse materials (posters, tent cards, signage) for your establishment, please send an email to


What Customers Need to Know

As a customer, you will see changes in how food and beverage is packaged and sold. Bring your own cup to save money on coffee and hot beverages, or take advantage of cup-sharing programs where available.

UBC recognizes that some community members need specific items such as plastic straws for accessibility purposes when enjoying food and beverages. As we transition to more sustainable materials and reduce single use items over time, we will incorporate our commitment to accessibility through identifying and addressing accessibility issues and concerns.

The Sustainability and Engineering unit in Campus and Community Planning, who is leading the Food Ware Strategy, is working with the UBC Centre for Accessibility to incorporate accessibility considerations into the Strategy implementation. 


Strategy Development and Approval

In 2018 we began collaborating with Metro Vancouver and the City of Vancouver, and consulted with food business stakeholders on campus, on the development of our Zero Waste Food Ware Strategy to reduce and recycle single use food service ware and packaging, such as coffee cups and take-out food containers. 

Following consultations in June 2018, a follow-up survey was also distributed. Through this process we captured lots of input and ideas which helped us craft the strategy. We also distributed the draft strategy to campus food business stakeholders for comment. 

Download the 2018 Single-Use Items Consultation Report

In June 2019, the UBC Zero Waste Food Ware Strategy was approved as an addendum to the Zero Waste Action Plan, which is a Board Approved Plan under UBC’s Policy 92, Land Use, Permitting and Sustainability. 

As a food and beverage business owner, manager or buyer, where do I start?

Review the procurement guideline and video listed above, and determine what changes need to be made in your business. Contact us (see information at bottom of page) if you would like help with this step.

As a business, how can I afford to pay for more expensive single use items?

If there are higher costs for specific items, these can potentially be covered by the single use item fees. In some cases businesses are already spending more for products that don’t align with UBC or regional systems, and switching can sometimes reduce the cost. For example, switching from compostable plastic drinking cups to recyclable drinking cups would reduce costs. 

Does UBC collect the single use item fees? 

For non-UBS businesses, fees required in the strategy will be collected by the business, not by UBC. The business determines how to use the fees. This may include using the fees to offset extra costs associated with changing to different products, if applicable. 

What about off-campus catering – does the strategy apply?

The strategy and standards apply to catering with operations on the academic campus. Event organizers are encouraged to use on-campus catering, and if not, to request or encourage off-campus caterers to conform to the procurement guidelines. 


Strategy development and policy:

Bud Fraser, Senior Planning and Sustainability Engineer
Tel: (604) 822-1501

Support for businesses regarding single use items and recycling:

Zero Waste Coordinator