March 4, 2019 7:09 pm
Updated: March 5, 2019 12:25 pm

North Okanagan could ban plastic bags

Watch: Victoria has already banned plastic checkout bags and Salmon Arm is exploring the measure. Now the north Okanagan is considering following suit.

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The Regional District of North Okanagan is considering a ban on single-use plastic bags.

It’s just one possible outcome of the regional district’s plans to regulate single-use plastics.

“The board has directed us to start a process: look at all single-use plastics and come up with suggestions on what should be banned in the north Okanagan,” Mike Fox, the regional district’s general manager of community services, said.

The district hopes to implement the same regulations on single-use plastic around the region.

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READ MORE: Banning plastic straws — a look at how much it really helps, and who it could hurt

“We recognize that having slightly different regulations in neighbouring cities and communities can be confusing, and, as a board, we want to be a unified front when it comes to regulating single-use plastics,” Kevin Acton, board chairperson of the Regional District of North Okanagan, said in a news release.

“By taking a regional approach to a single-use plastics bylaw, we can ensure that the regulations will be consistent throughout the North Okanagan,” he added.

One possibility staff are considering is following Victoria’s model. That city has banned single-use plastic checkout bags and required stores to charge for paper or reusable bags at checkout.

READ MORE: Starbucks to ditch plastic straws globally by 2020

Nature’s Fare, a Vernon-based grocery chain, is taking a different approach to tackling the problem of single-use plastics.

“We are currently using biodegradable plastic bags and we donate five cents to the Nature Conservancy of Canada any time somebody brings their own bag or doesn’t take a bag,” Alexa Monahan, the company’s marketing director, said.

The company, which promotes itself as a sustainable brand, is happy to see the regional district addressing plastic waste but has questions about what the rules will look like.

“We have to have it make sense for the business. For us, we would like to continue using biodegradable plastic bags because they are convenient for our customers and they do break down,” Monahan said.

The regional district is promising it will consult with business groups as it works on potential new rules.

However, store owners might not always like what they hear.

“Compostable plastic bags: some of them are actual, true compostable but some of them aren’t. They break down into microbeads, and that is ending up in our system, too,” Fox said.

READ MORE: The scoop on poop: how a plastic bag ban could impact Halifax pet owners

The regional district said it’s in the preliminary stages of regulating single-use plastics and waiting for staff to bring options back to the board.

According to a news release, the regional district will consult with its six municipalities and five electoral areas before adopting any bylaws.

READ MORE: Salmon Arm moving to ban plastic bags

Salmon Arm recently announced its plans to introduce a plastic bag ban.

WATCH BELOW: (Aired Jan. 22, 2019) Turning your plastic bags into designer clothes

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