Recycling of plastic bags could end
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.