Full-scale plas­tic bag ban on its way?

Vol­un­tary ap­proach pro­posal shot down in favour of all-out re­moval by De­cem­ber 2019

StarMetro Halifax - - HALIFAX - ZANE WOOD­FORD

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.”

ZANE WOOD­FORD/STARMETRO HAL­I­FAX

A re­port es­ti­mates that be­tween 125 and 208 mil­lion plas­tic shop­ping bags are used in the Hal­i­fax Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity an­nu­ally.

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