Should Regina ban single-use plastic bags?
As of January 1, the City of Montreal became the first major city in Canada to ban single-use plastic bags. With other cities planning to enact similar bans, it now has some wondering if Regina should follow suit.
“Between nine and 15 million bags are used in Canada every year,” Joanne Fedyk, Executive Director of Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council said.
The City of Regina is not considering a ban saying plastic bags only make up a small percentage of waste in the landfill. But Regina City Councillor Andrew Stevens says that’s not acceptable.
“It doesn’t matter how much space it takes up, it’s actually the fact we live in a very consumer driver, disposable oriented society,” Stevens said. “We need to have a conversation about that.”
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council says a ban would cut down on litter and keep plastics out of waterways.
“Plastic bags themselves cause a lot of environmental issues,” Fedyk said.
Saskatoon is the only major city in Saskatchewan that accepts plastic bags as part of its recycling program.
“Most recycling plants end up spending an awful lot of time peeling out the plastic bags from the rollers and that sort of thing, it’s very tedious,” Fedyk added.
Some major retailers like Loblaws already charge for bags but aren’t ready to scrap them entirely. Since 2007 stores owned by Loblaws have reduced the number of bags used by 10 billion.
$1 million of the proceeds from plastic bag sales go to organizations like WWF- Canada to support national environmental initiatives. Walmart, which started charging in 2016, has seen a 50 per cent reduction in their bags used across Canada.
But Tom’s Your Independent Grocer in Regina charges five cents per bag and says it still uses 10,000 plastic bags a week, adding it would welcome tighter controls on the use of bags.
“We need to do something about it, either we enhance recycling or curb the use of them entirely,” Stevens said.