Should Edmonton ban plastic bags? Grocery store reignites debate

WATCH ABOVE: An old debate has returned with renewed vigour: should plastic bags be banned in Edmonton? Vinesh Pratap explains.

An Edmonton grocery store has started a petition to ban single-use plastic bags in the city, days after the first major Canadian city joined the growing effort to do away with them.

Earth’s General Store in Edmonton reignited the plastic bag debate in hopes city officials will support its call to ban the practice.

A petition on the grocery store’s website said plastic bags are polluting oceans, rivers and landscapes around the world and people need to start doing their part to reduce the number of bags making their way into the environment.

“Single-use plastic bags waste valuable resources, cause pollution when they are being manufactured and are a sad legacy for future generations,” reads the petition.

“The City of Edmonton prides itself on its ‘world class’ recycling program and does a good job diverting ‘waste’ to be reused or broken down to use the resources. Would it not be wiser to reduce the amount of waste going into the waste stream than having to spend resources coping with the volume of the waste stream? Can we do better?”

On New Year’s Day, Montreal implemented its long-planned ban on plastic bags, becoming the first major Canadian city to do so.

READ MORE: No more plastic bags in Montreal; first major Canadian city to implement ban

The ban covers the distribution of lightweight plastic bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns as well as biodegradable bags, which contain an additive that causes them to decompose in heat and light.

There is an exception for the thin bags that are used in grocery stores to transport fruit and vegetables to the cash register or to wrap up meat.

“We use roughly two billion of these bags annually and only 14 per cent are reintegrated in recycling plants,” said Jean-Francois Parenteau, the Montreal city council member responsible for the environment.

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The plastic bag debate was last formally discussed at Edmonton City Council in 2008. After a report was submitted, council decided a city-wide ban on single-use plastic bags “would be too onerous for consumers and merchants and too difficult to regulate,” according to a statement from the city Thursday.

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In 2016, the Edmonton Waste Management Centre processed 207.82 tonnes of film plastics, which made up .63 per cent of total processed recyclables. The 2017 litter audit found that plastic retail bags made up .79 per cent of litter. Non-retail plastic bags made up .56 per cent of litter.

READ MORE: Edmonton councillors, businesses mixed over idea of plastic bag ban

Earth’s General Store is calling on Edmontonians to sign its petition to bring the ban to the city.

“Let’s be responsible earthlings and citizens of our planet and stop polluting our common home.”

Victoria has announced its intention to ban plastic bags beginning in July 2018. Vancouver is also mulling the idea. Toronto tried banning plastic bags but failed to do so in 2012.

Several smaller Canadian municipalities have already imposed bans.

The City of Edmonton encourages people to recycle single-use plastic bags in their blue bag or bin, or take them to a recycling depot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With files from The Canadian Press.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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