The start of some­thing good

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL -

The blight of plas­tic gro­cery bags pol­lut­ing Prince Edward Is­land’s land and sea is fi­nally com­ing to an end. The pur­pose of the Plas­tic Bag Re­duc­tion Act, which passed last week, is to elim­i­nate sin­gle-use check­out bags and to re­duce waste and en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age. It’s a bill wor­thy of Is­lan­ders’ full sup­port. This prov­ince is the first in Canada to ban­ish plas­tic bags from its ju­ris­dic­tion and our MLAs de­serve ap­plause for unan­i­mously sup­port­ing the leg­is­la­tion. It started as a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill in­tro­duced by Lib­eral back­bencher Allen Roach. And now the house will look at ex­tend­ing the ban. Op­po­si­tion MLA Steven My­ers is propos­ing to have a leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee look into re­duc­ing other sin­gle-use plas­tic in P.E.I. in­clud­ing coffee cup lids, dis­pos­able cut­lery, Sty­ro­foam plates and plas­tic straws. P.E.I. must do more to be­come a lead­ing prov­ince for the en­vi­ron­ment. It’s all the start of some­thing very good. While con­sumer op­po­si­tion to a ban in P.E.I. has largely been over­come, busi­nesses re­main con­cerned about costs and im­ple­men­ta­tion. Sev­eral years ago, su­per­mar­kets tried to limit plas­tic bags by charg­ing cus­tomers a fee at check­outs. There was con­sid­er­able push­back and threats of boy­cotts, so that idea was dropped. Con­sumers’ at­ti­tudes have changed. Dire warn­ings about plas­tics threat­en­ing our oceans and ma­rine life have hit home. The con­stant sight of plas­tic bags en­tan­gled in fences across the Is­land is de­press­ing. We are willing to go the ex­tra step to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and clean up our prov­ince. Is­land Waste Watch can cer­tainly claim credit about re­duc­ing plas­tic need­lessly go­ing to land­fills. The launch of the source-sep­a­ra­tion pro­gram in 2002 helped Is­lan­ders re­duce waste go­ing to land­fills by 50 per cent. Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada, Is­lan­ders lead the na­tion by di­vert­ing an av­er­age of 429 kilo­grams of waste per per­son to re­cy­cling or or­ganic pro­cess­ing. This bill will be a last­ing le­gacy for Mr. Roach, who is not re-offering in the next elec­tion. The for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter said it’s been a con­cern for him per­son­ally for a long time, be­cause plas­tic waste has been do­ing sig­nif­i­cant, pos­si­bly ir­repara­ble dam­age to our wa­ter­ways. The law will be im­ple­mented grad­u­ally, and by Jan. 1, 2020, stores can only sell re­us­able or pa­per bags. While many agree that it’s a move in the right di­rec­tion, the Re­tail Coun­cil of Canada is cry­ing foul. It says it was not con­sulted be­fore the bill was put for­ward - the sec­tor the bill is go­ing to im­pact the most. But there are many other pos­i­tives. Just last week­end in Que­bec, most mem­bers of the G7 - ex­cept the U.S. and Ja­pan - signed on to an agree­ment to re­duce the amount of plas­tic waste in the world’s oceans and cut down on the us­age of sin­gle-use plas­tics. There are calls for a Cana­dian na­tional plas­tics strat­egy, in­clud­ing a to­tal ban on plas­tics that can’t be re­cy­cled. And it all started here on P.E.I. where our MLAs were quick to ac­cu­rately gauge the sup­port of Is­lan­ders. We take great pride in do­ing our part in sav­ing Planet Earth.

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