There’s still a few more days for residents, non-profit organizations, businesses and institutions to participate in the City of Vancouver’s call for public input regarding a potential ban on plastic bags, as well as fees charged on paper and reusable bags.
The call-out is hot on the heels of last year’s approval of a Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy to get rid of items such as plastic straws, disposable drink cups and polystyrene take-out containers. Originally set to come into effect this summer, city council has agreed to postpone the action until April of 2020 as a result of push- back from businesses who are looking for a more cost-effect approach to switching to biodegradable alternatives.
Rather than a black and white approach, the city says the strategy is intended to be convenient, affordable and accessible; shift society norms, support lasting behaviour change, and value all members of Vancouver’s diverse communities, as well as meeting the needs of everyone regardless of physical ability.
Currently, around two million plastic bags are disposed of in the garbage in Vancouver each week — 63 per cent are reused as garbage bags. They makeup three per cent of shoreline litter and two per cent of litter in streets, parks and public spaces. Made from non-renewable fossil fuels, it takes between 10 and 10,000 years for them to decompose. Surprisingly, paper bags cause more harmful greenhouse gas emissions over their lifetime due to manufacturing processes and being heavier, requiring additional fuel to transport.
In July 2018, the City of Victoria enacted a Checkout Bag Regulation by-law banning plastic shopping bags and requiring a fee placed on paper and reusable shopping bags.