May 9, 2019 6:03 pm
Updated: May 9, 2019 7:11 pm

North Okanagan takes first step towards banning single-use plastic bags

The Regional District of the North Okanagan has given preliminary approval to a bylaw that would ban plastic checkout bags.

Global News
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A ban on single-use, plastic checkout bags is being seriously considered by the Regional District of the North Okanagan.

On Wednesday, the regional district’s board of directors gave preliminary approval to a bylaw banning the plastic bags.

However, the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO) announced on Thursday that they have not yet been banned, “and changes may occur to the bylaw before it is considered for final adoption.”

READ MORE: Salmon Arm moving to ban plastic bags

The regional district said at its earliest, the ban wouldn’t take effect until January 2020. But the RDNO reiterated the bylaw has only received first reading from the board, and that it takes four readings to approve a bylaw.

Notably, the regional district said four readings can take place in one meeting, but a longer timeline is taking place with this proposal to allow businesses and consumers time to prepare for this possibility.

WATCH BELOW (Aired March 4, 2019): North Okanagan plans to regulate single-use plastics

Below are questions and answers from the RDNO regarding the possible ban.

Who will the ban effect?

  • If the bylaw is approved, North Okanagan businesses will not be allowed to offer their customers plastic or biodegradable/compostable checkout bags. Customers will be encouraged to bring reusable bags with them, or expect to purchase a reusable bag or paper bag.

What is a single-use checkout bag?

  • A single-use checkout bag is a plastic bag that cannot withstand 100 uses. Plastic bags marketed as “biodegradable” or “compostable” are also defined as plastic bags and included within the ban.

I reuse my plastic bags, so they are not “single-use”. Why should we ban them when they can be used time after time?

  • Single-use plastic is defined as plastic that is useable less than 100 times. Plastic checkout bags begin to degrade after each use, and are generally not usable after 100 times leading to them being thrown in the garbage or recycling.

Where will the ban be put into effect?

  • If the bylaw is approved, electoral areas and member municipalities within the RDNO boundaries will be affected. This includes: Armstrong, Coldstream, Enderby, Lumby, Spallumcheen and Vernon plus Electoral Areas B (Swan Lake, Commonage), C (BX, Silver Star), D (rural Lumby), E Cherryville) and F (rural Enderby).

What types of bags are businesses allowed to offer as checkout bags?

  • If the bylaw is approved, reusable or paper bags will be allowed as checkout bags.

How much will reusable and paper bags cost customers?

  • If the bylaw is approved, customers will be charged no less than 15 cents per paper bag and $1 per reusable bag.

Why ban plastic checkout bags? Aren’t there other single-use plastics that should be banned?

  • There are many types of single-use plastics that can also be banned. The RDNO is taking it one step at a time, and has chosen checkout bags as a starting point as they are one of the most commonly improperly recycled single-use plastics. By starting with one type of single-use plastic, there is better potential for widespread support.

Should businesses offer biodegradable or compostable checkout bags?

  • No. Plastic bags marketed as “biodegradable” or “compostable” do not degrade easily without industrial compost facilities. These products are problematic for recycling machines if they are mistaken for and mixed with conventional plastic bags.

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