It’s any­thing but in the bag

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties left to sort out plas­tics prob­lem on their own

The News (New Glasgow) - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRENDAN AH­ERN With files from: Val­ley Jour­nal Ad­ver­tiser Kings County News

With­out reg­u­la­tory ac­tion from the province, con­sen­sus among Nova Sco­tia’s largest mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be needed to in­voke a ban on sin­gle-use plas­tics by the end of 2019.

“We’re al­ways go­ing to the province, ask­ing for more pow­ers,” said Hal­i­fax Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity coun­cil­lor Waye Ma­son, who is also pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia Fed­er­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. He spoke dur­ing a brief pre­sen­ta­tion to the Hal­i­fax En­vi­ron­ment and Sus­tain­abil­ity Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Dec. 6.

“By work­ing to­gether, we can im­ple­ment a province-wide ban, or a nearly province-wide ban, with­out wait­ing for the min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­ment and the leg­is­la­tion to take ac­tion,” he said. “This is in our con­trol.”

At that meet­ing the com­mit­tee ap­proved a strat­egy that would ef­fec­tively ban sin­gle-use plas­tics – like plas­tic-wraps, bread bags and shop­ping bags – from HRM by the end of 2019. In lieu of a provin­cially reg­u­lated ban, HRM would col­lab­o­rate with the other nine large mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to draft by-laws aimed at elim­i­nat­ing sin­gle-use plas­tic bags as soon as pos­si­ble, but no later than De­cem­ber 2019.

“We met, and all the may­ors agreed that they will ban plas­tic bags this year,” said Ma­son of the fed­er­a­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Novem­ber. Dates for a ban would be sub­ject to change, but com­ing out of the meet­ing was a soft-launch for July 1, and a hard ban Oct. 1.

“At the Novem­ber AGM we agreed to sup­port this and we’re await­ing in­for­ma­tion from HRM,” said New Glas­gow Mayor, Nancy Dicks. “They have staff that are work­ing on the de­tails and they’ve taken the lead.”

Con­sen­sus on com­plex is­sues can be dif­fi­cult, and the may­ors will need sup­port of their own

mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils for any­thing to move for­ward. Some mu­nic­i­pal leaders have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at the province’s un­will­ing­ness to pur­sue a provin­cially-reg­u­lated ban on sin­gle-use plas­tic.

“All lev­els of govern­ment have been drag­ging their feet,” said Wolfville Mayor, Jeff Cantwell, who is also a board mem­ber on the Nova Sco­tia Fed­er­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. While he’s pleased the ban is mov­ing for­ward, he’d pre­fer it was provinceled and had come sooner.

Jenny Postema, mu­nic­i­pal clerk with the County of Kings, said their coun­cil passed a mo­tion

in March 2018 to “sup­port a province-wide ban on sin­gle-use plas­tics, pro­vided the ini­tia­tive is un­der­taken by the Province of Nova Sco­tia and in­volves a pro­mo­tional cam­paign.”

How much plas­tic?

Of the province’s 50 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, 41 made sim­i­lar mo­tions of sup­port for a province-wide ap­proach on a dis­tri­bu­tion ban of sin­gle-use plas­tics, or poly­eth­yl­ene film plas­tics, which have been banned from Nova Sco­tia’s land­fills since 1994.

Nova Sco­tia once shipped this re­cy­clable ma­te­rial to China. But since the end of 2017, when China an­nounced it would no longer ac­cept

Canada’s film plas­tics, ma­te­ri­als have been pil­ing up and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are hav­ing trou­ble find­ing mar­kets for it.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est data from Sta­tis­tics Canada, Nova Sco­tia di­verted 293,178 tonnes of residential and non-residential ma­te­rial from mu­nic­i­pal land­fills. Nova Sco­tians also use between 300 and 500 mil­lion plas­tic gro­cery bags each year, with only three per cent find­ing its way into the streets, trees and wa­ter­ways as ob­serv­able garbage.

SARA ERIC­S­SON/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Value Vil­lage store man­ager Reg Chitty says his New Mi­nas store branch has been us­ing pa­per bags in lieu of plas­tic since Au­gust, and that the change has been a pop­u­lar one with cus­tomers.

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