A Grade 11 student in Moncton is hoping her city will kick single-use plastic bags to the curb.
Sarah Gingles presented to municipal councillors Monday, proposing a ban on the bags and a plastic tax or a “plas-tax.”
“To start that off is giving a 10-cent or five-cent credit, like if you were to bring in your mug at a coffee shop, then you’d get 10 cents off your coffee,” she says. “That’s to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags.
“Another way to kind of discourage people from using single-use plastic bags is… a 75-cent tax for plastic bags.”
She says the environment is suffering, and over 2,200 signatures in about three weeks on an online petition seems to indicate she’s not alone with that thought.
Gingles hopes the municipality can take a lead on a ban.
“This is the town that I would possibly see myself living in when I’m older, as well,” she says. “To not only help the future of Moncton, but also help my generation, as well, because we’re going to be the ones living in it.”
The Retail Council of Canada has said a province-wide ban would make more sense to avoid confusion between retailers and consumers.
John Wishart, the CEO for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, agrees a provincial strategy would allow for smoother operations on the business side.
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But if that doesn’t happen, Wishart says a local plan could be a model for New Brunswick.
“I would suggest that the best course of action in the short term would be to try to encourage more people to move to reusable or recyclable bags, maybe create some sort of incentive program to get people off plastic,” he says. “At the same time, I think maybe the province can learn from whatever we come up with here in greater Moncton.”
A possible bag plan is expected to be discussed at the next meeting among tri-community municipalities — Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe — taking place later this week.
Isabelle LeBlanc, a spokesperson for Moncton, says the topic is set to go before public meetings in May.
Gingles says an answer needs to be found to protect future generations.
“It’s detrimental to our environment, meaning ecologically with the oceans… and also in our day-to-day lives,” Gingles said. “Like I’m looking at so much plastic on the ground right now.”