Re­cy­cling of plas­tic bags could end

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - PHIL TANK

Saska­toon res­i­dents could soon be asked to stop putting plas­tic bags in their re­cy­cling bins.

A re­port en­dorsed by a city coun­cil com­mit­tee on Tues­day rec­om­mends that plas­tic bags and other sim­i­lar ma­te­rial be re­moved from the list of ac­cept­able items peo­ple can toss into mu­nic­i­pal re­cy­cling bins.

The mar­ket for re­cy­cled plas­tic bags and plas­tic wraps has di­min­ished be­cause low oil prices mean it’s cheaper to make new ma­te­rial like plas­tics from petroleum, the re­port ex­plains.

Some mem­bers of city coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­ment, util­i­ties and cor­po­rate ser­vices com­mit­tee won­dered whether a com­plete ban on plas­tic bags in the city would be ap­pro­pri­ate.

“It’s not that I’m not in­ter­ested, but I guess I would just cau­tion us in terms of charg­ing ahead with that piece of work right now, given the other items that are on the todo list,” Coun. Mairin Loewen said.

The plas­tics be­ing con­sid­ered for re­moval from the city’s re­cy­cling stream ac­count for about two per cent of the to­tal ma­te­rial. Most of that is dis­pos­able plas­tic bags, the com­mit­tee heard.

De­spite the small share of the to­tal ma­te­rial, plas­tic bags and wraps tend to get mixed up in other ma­te­rial like pa­per and make re­cy­cling it dif­fi­cult.

Sara Har­ri­son, chair of the Saska­toon en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, spoke in favour of con­sid­er­ing a city-wide plas­tic bags ban. She noted the city of Mon­treal re­cently im­ple­mented one.

Coun. Dar­ren Hill said he would like to see some fi­nan­cial fig­ures on how plas­tic bags af­fect the re­cy­cling sys­tem be­fore he con­sid­ers a plas­tic bag ban. Hill said some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have not seen the de­sired pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment ef­fect from ban­ning plas­tic bags out­right.

Both Cos­mopoli­tan In­dus­tries Ltd. and Lo­raas Re­cy­cle, which man­age the city’s re­cy­cling col­lec­tion pro­grams, have asked that ma­te­rial like plas­tic bags be re­moved from the re­cy­cling stream.

The mar­kets for such ma­te­rial dried up af­ter China in­tro­duced fur­ther re­stric­tions on the ma­te­rial it im­ports, the re­port ex­plains.

If city coun­cil ap­proves re­mov­ing plas­tic bags from the re­cy­cling stream, the change could hap­pen in the fall. The city will also con­sider re­mov­ing black plas­tic and glass when it re­news con­tracts for re­cy­cling col­lec­tion, the re­port says.

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