Province shifts pri­or­ity, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties lose ground

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY BRENDAN AH­ERN

Sin­gle-use plas­tic is all they’re talk­ing about in Hal­i­fax right now, ac­cord­ing to Jim Ryan, Mayor of the Town of Pic­tou and chair of the Shared Ser­vices Author­ity which over­sees waste man­age­ment for the county.

“It’s a small por­tion of this film plas­tic, but it’s a start,” Ryan said.

As chair of the SSA, Ryan also rep­re­sents the re­gion on the Nova Sco­tia Solid Waste Man­age­ment Re­gional Chairs Com­mit­tee.

On Jan. 11, 2018 this com­mit­tee met with for­mer en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, Iain Rankin to ad­dress the plas­tic prob­lem and de­velop a province-wide re­duc­tion strat­egy. Rankin tasked the com­mit­tee with re­turn­ing to their own mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, to bring for­ward a con­sen­sus on a province-wide ban.

Five months later, they reached one. The com­mit­tee in­formed Rankin in a May 28 let­ter from com­mit­tee chair, Leland An­thony.

In re­sponse, the min­is­ter thanked the com­mit­tee for their progress, adding, “Nova Sco­tia En­vi­ron­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing op­tions to re­duce the amount of poly­eth­yl­ene film land­filled in Nova Sco­tia.

Soon af­ter the provin­cial cab­i­net was reshuf­fled and Hants East MLA Mar­garet Miller took over as En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter. In Oc­to­ber, Miller told re­porters the province would not be pur­su­ing a province-wide ban. The com­mit­tee sent a let­ter to the new min­is­ter for an ex­pla­na­tion.

“Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have worked re­ally hard to ob­tain con­sen­sus, not eas­ily achieved on most sub­jects, to sup­port the province,” the let­ter reads. “We were so dis­ap­pointed to re­cently hear the in­ter­view on CBC that your depart­ment is not in sup­port of a bag ban.”

In re­sponse, the min­is­ter thanked the com­mit­tee for ex­press­ing sup­port for a province-wide ban, adding, “New in­no­va­tive uses, new mar­kets for these ma­te­ri­als” would help the province di­vert the plas­tics out of Nova Sco­tia’s land­fills.

The re­spon­si­bil­ity for find­ing those mar­kets ul­ti­mately lies with the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“The province should be step­ping up here,” said Ryan. “Es­pe­cially af­ter we were asked to do this as mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.”

The first of what could be 10 mo­tions brought for­ward to mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils across the province will be de­bated at Hal­i­fax re­gional coun­cil in Jan­uary.

FILE PHOTO

Film plas­tics, in­clud­ing plas­tic shop­ping bags, no longer have a fi­nal des­ti­na­tion for re­cy­cling, since China stopped ac­cept­ing them on Jan. 1, 2018. Now Nova Sco­tia’s largest mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are look­ing to ban the bag.

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