‘It just ends up in our waste system’: Plastic grocery bag ban officially launched in Devon, Alberta

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WATCH ABOVE: The Town of Devon has officially banned plastic grocery bags from its community, joining a number of other municipalities across Canada. Sarah Komadina reports. – Jan 1, 2020

Devon, Alta. has officially banned plastic grocery bags, joining a number of other municipalities across Canada.

As of Jan. 1, 2020, stores in the community can no longer distribute single-use plastic retail bags.

Council voted in November, and let residents know by giving each house hold two reusable bags featuring two local artists.

“Single-use plastic is something that everyone uses, and it just ends up in our waste system, and it ends up not being recycled because the plastic is too thin,” Devon Mayor Ray Ralph said.

There are some exemptions, they include plastic bags used for:

  • carrying fruits and/or vegetables
  • containing fresh meat or fish products
  • containing bulk food items (i.e. candy, nuts, grains, etc.) or bulk hardware items (i.e. screws, nuts, bolts, etc.) that are not prepackaged
  • freshly prepared bakery items or other food items
  • wrapping flowers or potted plants
  • clothes immediately following professional laundering or dry-cleaning
  • dirty, greasy, or hazardous products or materials

READ MORE: New Edmonton garbage plan includes single-use plastic ban

It’s the first step of many council hopes to take when it comes to banning single use plastic.

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“We are looking at straws, Styrofoam and all those other things that people are just throwing away,” Councillor Chris Fish said.

On January 1, many Devonians could be seen out shopping with their own reusable bags, and for those who forgot to bring one, they could use paper bags.

READ MORE: Moose Jaw, Sask. students aim to recycle population’s worth in plastic bags

Superior Liquor Mart owner Don Szyndrowski has been in the same building for more than 40 years. He remembers the transition back in 1980s from paper to plastic bags.

“We were trying to save trees at that time, and so everybody wanted to move away from paper, and the transition to plastic was quite simple,” Syndrowski said.

He said there is a bit of a learning curve for people carrying out heavy items in a paper bag, and they need a little coaching to carry it from the bottom.

“I don’t think paper bags are the answer, so hopefully more people will start using their reusable bags,” Szyndrowski said.

If a store is caught with plastic grocery bags it will be given a warning, but if caught again will face a fine of $250.  After that the penalties continue to increase: the second offence is $500, and offenses after that will be set at $1000.

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Other Alberta municipalities with active bylaws or that are discussing single-use waste reduction strategies include:

  • Banff
  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Okotoks
  • Spruce Grove
  • St. Albert
  • Wetaskiwin

Devon is located about 26 kilometers southwest of Edmonton.