Full-scale plastic bag ban on its way?
Voluntary approach proposal shot down in favour of all-out removal by December 2019
With hopes of creating a juryrigged province-wide ban, Halifax’s environment committee is recommending that regional council eliminate plastic shopping bags in the municipality.
During a meeting on Thursday, the committee voted down the staff recommendation to work with businesses to reduce the number of plastic bags being used in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), and voted instead for an alternative motion from Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini.
The committee recommended that regional council vote to direct staff to “collaborate with the 10 largest Nova Scotia municipalities to draft a bylaw for council’s consideration as soon (as) possible, but no later than December 2019, to eliminate the distribution of single-use plastic bags, without first attempting a voluntary approach.”
The issue has come to the forefront over the last year after China stopped accepting recycled film plastics like
plastic bags, leaving municipalities, including Halifax, scrambling to find new markets for their waste. The problem is compounded here by the fact that film plastics aren’t permitted in landfills in Nova Scotia.
HRM was granted permission to landfill some film plastics early this year, but solid waste manager Matt Keliher told the committee on Thursday that the municipality hasn’t had to resort to that.
The situation is precarious though. Keliher said HRM has “a number of semi-stable outlets” for its film plastic. He wouldn’t even say where those outlets were, for fear that other municipalities would try to steal the municipality’s connection.
But a bag ban won’t solve the problem, according to staff.
The report to the committee said staff estimate between 125 and 208 million
plastic shopping bags are used in the municipality annually, but they only account for about 25 per cent of thin plastics, called film plastic, entering Halifax’s recycling facility.
“It is a small percentage, but it’s something we can grab ahold of,” Mancini told his colleagues on Thursday. “It may be low-hanging fruit for municipalities, but we can grab ahold and do something with it.”
A report estimates that between 125 and 208 million plastic shopping bags are used in the Halifax Regional Municipality annually.