Newfoundland and Labrador to become 2nd province to ban plastic bags

FILE - Newfoundland and Labrador is banning plastic bags in stores and retail outlets. File / Global News

Newfoundland and Labrador has announced it will become the second province to ban plastic bags.

The provincial government introduced legislation on Tuesday allowing it to ban their use at stores and other retail outlets.

It says the ban won’t take effect for between six and 12 months, to give consumers time to get in the habit of bringing reusable bags.

Prince Edward Island passed a similar ban last June, to take effect this coming July 1.

Many municipalities plan similar bans, amid a national conversation about single-use plastics and their environmental impact.

Newfoundland and Labrador says public consultations found 87 per cent were in favour of a ban.

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“The consultations we conducted in March indicate the strength of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians convictions: they do not want plastic bags to be distributed at retail locations,” Environment Minister Graham Letto said in a statement.

“To protect the environment and improve the waste management system, we have introduced amendments to the legislation that will allow us to draft regulations to ban the retail plastic bag.”

The province says its regulations will address issues including adjustment time for businesses; alternatives to plastic bags and whether those require a fee “to limit their overconsumption”; and any possible exceptions.

But the Canadian Plastics Industry Association disputed the results from what it called the province’s “biased” consultation, saying it was only an attempt to divert attention from poor landfill management practices.

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“The bag ban issue is all about politics, a pre-election ploy about what the government sees is an easy win so they can look green,” Joe Hruska, the association’s vice-president of sustainability, said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

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“An expert panel last September advised that plastic bags are not a problem on the island and that the science does not support a ban. The core environmental problem the island faces according to the expert panel is windblown litter from poorly managed landfills. You can ban the bag, but it will not solve the island’s serious windblown litter problem.”

According to Greenpeace Canada, Canadians generate about 3.25 million tonnes of plastic garbage each year, which the environmental group says could fill 140,000 garbage trucks.

As well, the federal government says more than 150 million tonnes of plastic waste is clogging the oceans worldwide.

Ikea and A&W are the latest big chains to join the war against single-use plastics, with each promising to limit waste production amid a growing public outcry over pollution.

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