Halifax committee to consider asking for report on plastic shopping bag ban

Click to play video: 'Possible staff report would look at plastic shopping bag ban in Halifax'
Possible staff report would look at plastic shopping bag ban in Halifax
WATCH ABOVE: While shopping in Halifax, you may have come across some stores that charge you for plastic shopping bags. It's something more retailers have started doing in recent years. Some cities in Canada have even passed bylaws requiring the fees or banning the bags completely. It's a conversation that Halifax Regional Council could be having in the future. Global’s Steve Silva explains – Jan 31, 2017

A motion going before a regional council committee this week could see a request for a report looking into options to reduce or end the use of plastic shopping bags in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

READ MORE: Poll: Would a plastic bag ban work in Halifax?

The motion put forward by District 6 Councillor Tony Mancini asks the report to include options such as imposing a fee per bag, a partial ban that would include alternatives like paper bags, or a complete ban on plastic shopping bags.

“So what’s the right solution? I don’t know,” Mancini said on Tuesday.

The aim is to get more information, he added.

The motion for the request (PDF) is scheduled to be presented to the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee on Thursday.

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Mancini said plastic bags can be detrimental to the environment, namely when they aren’t properly disposed of.

Bans of or fees for plastic bags have been considered or enacted in other Canadian municipalities, something some people say is unnecessary.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t think that people should be charged for bags,” said Hannah Lowe, manager of Showtime Video & Variety in Dartmouth. “And especially in a community like this where there’s a lot of low-income people, I don’t think people can afford to do that.”

READ MORE: New initiative repurposing thousands of plastic bags and helping the homeless

She said a fee won’t solve the inherent problem.

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“People are going to litter, no matter what, and it’s up to us. We need to recycle,” Lowe said.

But even in HRM, fees for shopping bags already exist at some stores.

In Halifax, Organic Earth Market has been charging 10 cents per plastic or paper bag for years.

READ MORE: Breakfast Buzz: Will a charge discourage you from using plastic bags?

The fees are there “to reduce waste, the carbon footprint, and all that stuff,” store manager Tracy Nauss said.

Customers don’t seem to have much of an issue paying for bags, she said, and $2 reusable bags made of recycled plastic are available, though it’s encouraged people bring their own.

Nauss also said the store is trying to find an efficient way for people to take bulk ingredients home using reusable jars.

READ MORE: Canadian plastics industry, Coderre meet to discuss Montreal bag ban

“They might call me and say, ‘Well, you’re out to lunch, Mancini.’ Well, the fact we’re having the conversation, we’re heightening the awareness of it, and that’s worth it in itself,” said Mancini.

He added that he wants any potential impact to small businesses to be considered in the report.


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