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Some N.B. retailers move to eliminate plastic bags amid calls for provincial ban

Moncton-area moves towards eliminating single-use plastic bags
WATCH: A ban on single-use plastic checkout bags will take effect July 1 in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe. But as Callum Smith reports, while some stores are getting ahead of the ban, there are calls for a provincial ban.

A single-use plastic checkout bag ban is set to take effect in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe on July 1.

Some stores, including Sobeys and local Home Hardware shops, are preparing months in advance, already removing the bags from rotation.

Instead, paper or reusable cloth bags are offered at the checkout for a fee.

READ MORE: Sobeys to phase out plastic bags, but ‘Sobeys bag’ lives on in Atlantic Canada 

But while some municipalities are trying to get ahead of the game, the Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick is calling on the New Brunswick government to enact similar, province-wide legislation.

“What we need is a comprehensive approach that provides consistency across the whole province,” Margot Cragg, the executive director of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick says.

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“Our members at our annual general meeting passed a unanimous resolution calling for a provincial-ban on single-use plastic bags.”

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Margot Cragg, the executive director of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick, says they’re calling for a province-wide ban of single-use plastic bags
Margot Cragg, the executive director of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick, says they’re calling for a province-wide ban of single-use plastic bags Margot Cragg / Twitter

The Retail Council of Canada has long-advocated for provincial governments to take the lead on bag bans.

Two Atlantic provinces are the first to place a widespread ban.

Prince Edward Island’s law came into effect July 1, 2019. Newfoundland and Labradour will ban bags across that province July 1, 2020.

Push to ban plastic bags grows
Push to ban plastic bags grows

But Jeff Carr, New Brunswick’s environment and local government minister, says the province isn’t looked at a ban plan. Instead, they’re working on an ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ program.

“In the next six to 12 months, we will expect that we will have a regulation in place that will have industry involved to look after end-of-life on all of this waste, in conjunction with our regional service commission landfills.”

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Meanwhile, at the Home Hardware on Elmwood Drive, customers are already adapting.

“Since we knew that we had to be (done offering single-use plastic bags), by July 1, we said let’s just start the year off well,” says Luc Léger, the operations manager for the Elmwood Group, and the local Home Hardware.

Smaller paper bags are offered for 10 cents, while cloth reusable bags cost $1.50.

READ MORE: Sobeys announces plan to remove all plastic bags in 2020

Overall, customers say they’re ready for the elimination to become more widespread.

“The whole world should do it,” says Jonathan Cail, a customer out shopping.

“(The ban) should be nationwide. Not only New Brunswick, but everywhere in Canada,” says another customer, Robert Paris.

More information on the Greater Moncton ban can be found here.