Is it time to ban plastic bags?

REGINA – The city says it’s not currently looking at an outright ban on plastic bags because it’s not sure how it would affect business. However, some businesses would actually welcome a clampdown on light plastic bags, including the company that currently struggles with recycling them.

“Snow tends to cover some of that plastic material that’s light and can be blown away, but come spring, those plastic bags show up, wind shows up as well and yeah, you’ll see plastic bags blown all over the place,” admits Ray Morgan, acting direcor of open space and environmental services at the City of Regina.

Every spring, Morgan says the city hires additional staff to pick up loose garbage in and around the landfill. Part of the problem is the city can’t recycle light plastic bags because they would clog up the current machines.

“Grocery bags in your recycling system is a problem,” said Jack Shaw, president and general manager of Crown Shred and Recycling.

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Crown Shred and Recycling in Regina is the only company in Saskatchewan that recycles plastic bags by including it in with assorted plastic that gets turned into dimensional lumber, which Shaw says has many uses: “Fencing, decks, floors for bins and sheds- anywhere that you might want to put a product that won’t rot. It’s great for boat docks.”

However, they have to be careful not to put too many plastic bags in with the mix because the light plastic is difficult to work with and hard on the equipment.

“When we eventually get to where they’re extinct at the grocery, at the retail level, I think we’re all better off,” said Shaw.

Many retailers wouldn’t oppose a municipal ban on plastic bags. At Crocus and Ivy, they have both paper and biodegradable plastic bags.

“It’s a quandry about what to do because you buy paper and it obviously has to come from the forest, the trees,” said owner Carol Brundige.

There’s also a big economic cost, she added: “As a retailer, it would be beautiful if we didn’t have to purchase bags to give away.”

Meanwhile, the city said it’s encouraging people to re-use the bags and that they are working on a solution that will allow their equipment to recycle them.


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