UBCM backs controversial plastic bag ban motion

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has decided to send a strong message about the use of plastic grocery bags

Correction:

In our story “CVRD advocates plastic bag ban”, (Citizen, Oct. 5) and the editorial “We should move to less plastic, not more” we incorrectly stated that Thrifty Foods was considering bringing plastic bags back to its stores on the Mainland. Thrifty Foods is not considering any such move, and will continue being an environmental leader with its promotion of reusable cloth bags and use of paper bags at the till.

 

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has decided to send a strong message to the government, retailers and consumers about the use of plastic grocery bags at its conference in Victoria last week.

Delegates at the conference voted in favour of a controversial motion put forward by the Cowichan Valley Regional District to ban the use of the bags at the manufacture and retail levels.

But don’t expect the bags to disappear from stores anytime soon.

Bob Day, vice-chairman of the CVRD, said the next step is for the province to consider the motion and decide if it wants to move forward with the process of making the ban a law in the province.

He said that the government has been reluctant to develop legislation on the issue after being presented with similar recommendations in the past.

“The province was presented with almost the same resolution in 2008 and it hasn’t gone anywhere since then,” Day said.

“I just don’t think they’ll run with it this time either. I believe that they would prefer if individual municipalities deal with it rather than dealing with at the provincial level.”

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that close to one trillion plastic bags are used around the globe every year, but only about five per cent of them are being recycled.

Most end up in landfills, where they can take up to 1,000 years for them to decompose, and in the oceans where more than one million birds and 100,000 whales, seals, sea turtles and other marine mammals are being killed annually from eating or becoming entangled in plastic bags.

As a result, governments and companies all over the world have begun taking action to ban the bags in favour of reusable cloth and woven bags.

But not everyone is looking to rid the planet of the bags.

Thrifty Foods, which has branches in Duncan and Mill Bay, started phasing out the use of plastic bags in 2009.

But the company has recently begun returning the bags to its stores on the Lower Mainland, stating that concerns have been raised about the water resistance of cloth and paper bags, among other issues.

The grocery store chain is now looking for its customers opinions on the possibility of returning the bags to its stores in the Valley.