DIGBY, N.S. – If the Municipality of Digby could have its way, single-use plastic bags would be banned not only in Digby County, but across the province of Nova Scotia, and around the world.
Deputy Warden Linda Gregory, who is also vice chair of the Waste Check board for Region 7 (Digby-Yarmouth regions), presented some chilling facts to council about the plastic film used in single-use bags on behalf of the Waste Check team.
Among the plastic film within plastic bag statistics cited by Gregory in her presentation on behalf of Waste Check:
• the plastic used in bags takes more than 1,000 years to break down
• China is no longer accepting plastic film as recycling material and viable alternative markets are not adequate to fill that gap
• there is a current worldwide stockpiling of plastics
• the ongoing issue of plastic pollution in oceans and subsequent consumption of plastics by fish that leads to their deaths
• Region 7 alone saw 193 metric tons of plastic recycled last year
• Halifax has now received permission to divert plastics to landfill for a six-month period
• Digby County’s contractor is not supportive of diverting those plastics to landfill
• Nova Scotians still use 300-500 million plastic shopping bags each year
While they were aware of plastics littering oceans, several councillors found the numbers quite shocking and responded quickly.
Plastic is a huge threat to the fishing industry, said District Four Councillor David Tudor. “I think we should 100 per cent ban the stuff,” he said.
George Manzer, councillor for District 5, agreed with Tudor, but expressed concern that the municipality didn’t have the authority to enforce the ban, while Matthew Ross, councillor for District 2, suggested that for some, the reusable bags might be deemed to expensive.
“I’d like to see some incentives offered by the major stores to help people convert to reusable bags,” Ross said. “But yes, we do have to get rid of the plastic.”
Gregory pointed out that one chain already offers an incentive – her Sobey’s reusable bags have a lifetime warranty and if damaged are replaced by the store. But Gregory said possibly it was also time for the whole world to rethink the use of disposable bags. Gregory added that since charging a nickel for bags, the Walmart chain has seen a 50 per cent reduction in the use of plastic bags.
Warden Jimmy MacAlpine agreed with the idea of supporting a total ban on single use plastics.
“Our western region has been a leader in Nova Scotia for years in waste reduction and Nova Scotia continues to be a leader in Canada,” MacAlpine said. “This initiative would have to be supported by our whole region, but I agree with Option 1 – it’s time to phase out single use plastic bags.”
Gregory added that while it might still be voluntary for grocers to use the bags, improved education could result in change – on the grocer side and on the consumer side.
After Tudor put forward a motion to support the ban of single use bags in Digby County, it was seconded by Ross, and then received unanimous support from counc