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It's official: Manitoba town gives plastic bags the boot
Could Toronto be next?

It's been talked about for weeks and on Monday the northern Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids became the first municipality in Canada to ban plastic shopping bags.

Mayor Ed Cherrier said he doesn't expect any trouble enforcing the new bylaw in the town of about 550 people

The new bylaw prevents retailers from selling or distributing the single-use bags. Ignoring the ban could result in a $1,000-a-day fine. In anticipation, officials have been handing out cloth shopping bags to residents.

Toronto councillors appear split on the idea of banning plastic shopping bags as a way of cutting down on the city's garbage. But they're all in favour of having them recycled.

Works committee chair Glenn De Baeremaker said last week that he'd like to see the number of plastic bags in the city's landfill sites cut by 80 to 90 per cent. Ideally, he said, they shouldn't be manufactured in the first place.

"A lot of jurisdictions in the world, including places in Africa and India, already ban plastic bags," he said.

Manitoba city could be first to ban non reuseable bags

Leaf Rapids, Man. plans to implement a bylaw on April 2 stating "retailers will no longer be permitted to give away or sell plastic shopping bags that are intended for single use
Leaf Rapids, a northern Manitoba town of just 539 people, should by Monday be the first municipality in North America to ban plastic bags.
It's a sign of the times that there is a race on to outlaw the ubiquitous plastic bag. From San Francisco to Leaf Rapid's main Canadian rival in this department, the town of Rossland in British Columbia, there is a movement afoot to rid the world of plastic bags. How much sense the idea makes is another question.
Plastic bags are cheap and practical. They protect goods in bad weather and have become essential to dog-walkers, who must keep streets and parks free of their pets' waste.

But plastic bags are also a huge problem. The U.S. uses - including certain other types of plastic packaging - about 380 billion of them every year, which works out to about three per day for every man, woman and child in the whole country.
Fewer than five per cent of all these are recycled. And it is estimated plastic bags can take as long as 1,000 years to dissolve.
You have only to look around to see that they don't all end up in the garbage. Plastic bags often end up as litter, in parks, in alleyways, on streets. They clog sewers, endanger pets, get stuck in trees, and befoul the landscape. Blown into waterways, they kill fish. And each one is made from expensive, non-renewable oil.
Should these bags be banned? We think not. But a lot can be done, short of drastic government action, to reduce the negative impacts of this useful invention.
Training ourselves not to use so many plastic bags has symbolic as well as practical value. Every time we say no to a plastic bag, we remind ourselves and others that we must all start doing our part to safeguard our environment.
In Quebec, a number of retail chains are leading the way in phasing out plastic bags. Nowadays when you make a small purchase you are often asked "do you need a bag?" where previously you would have been given one automatically.
Metro Inc. grocery stores now offer a five-cent rebate for every reusable bag customers bring in. Metro, and other chains, sell reusable bags and practical plastic boxes like re-cycling boxes: carry your groceries right into the house, then stow the box in the trunk of your car.
The environment is everyone's business.
© The Gazette (Montreal)
 
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KCBS)  --
March 23, 2007 
A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee is poised to approve legislation mandating that large grocery stores and pharmacies provide more eco-friendly bags at check-out.

If this measure becomes law, San Francisco would likely be the first city in the nation to formally green its groceries and pharmacies in this manner.

The typical plastic bags you're used to would be outlawed and stores would have to add more environmentally-friendly paper bags or reusable bags.

The overwhelming testimony at yesterday's committee hearing was in favor of the idea.

"If it starts here it's going to spread to neighboring counties and it's going to spread to the state," one proponent said.

"This legislation will offer the city of San Francisco a great opportunity to do public education about reducing and reusing ones own bags," a woman testified.

This measure would give grocers six months to comply, pharmacies would have a year and small independent stores would be exempt.

Because major amendments were added, the committee could not approve the plastic bag ban until next week. Then, it will go immediately to the full board for a vote.

If this measure becomes law, San Francisco would likely be the first city in the nation to formally green its groceries and pharmacies in this manner.

The typical plastic bags you're used to would be outlawed and stores would have to add more environmentally-friendly paper bags or reusable bags.

The overwhelming testimony at yesterday's committee hearing was in favor of the idea.

"If it starts here it's going to spread to neighboring counties and it's going to spread to the state," one proponent said.

"This legislation will offer the city of San Francisco a great opportunity to do public education about reducing and reusing ones own bags," a woman testified.

This measure would give grocers six months to comply, pharmacies would have a year and small independent stores would be exempt.

Because major amendments were added, the committee could not approve the plastic bag ban until next week. Then, it will go immediately to the full board for a vote

 

 

 
 
Some Facts published
by Sierra Club
 
  Paper: "Do we clearcut forests, grind them to chips, and pulp and bleach them with chlorine-based compounds (general carcinogenic by-products) to make boxes, bags and to-go cups primarily for onetime use?"
 
Plastic: "Or do we make a pact with demon hydrocarbon, refining ancient sunlight into light, easily compactible bottles, wraps and foams?"
 
Solution: Reusable cloth bags for shopping. suggested by Daniel Imhoff, published by Sierra Club
 
 
 Other Countries
 Many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Taiwan, and India have already taken action to ban or reduce the use of plastic bags, and with great success. In Ireland, for instance, a "PlasTax" of about 20 cents per bag (which customers have to pay) has been in place since March 2002. The tax has cut the amount of plastic bags used in the country by more than 90 percent.
 
Plastic Bags
 
  1. They Use up Natural Resources
  2. They Harm Wildlife and Marine Life
  3. They Create Litter
  4. They Take a Long Time to Biodegrade
  5. They're Expensive.
  6. They can be Hazardous to Humans.
 
Paper Bags
 
  1. Paper bags generate 70 percent more air pollution and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
  2. It takes 91 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.
  3. The trees from which paper bags are made are a renewable resource, whereas plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources.
  4. Paper bags take up more landfill space (2,000 plastic bags weight just 30 pounds, whereas 2,000 paper bags weight 280 pounds).
  5. Paper bags in landfills don't break down much faster than plastic bags (because they're not exposed to water, light, oxygen and other elements that they need to biodegrade).
  6. Paper bags are more likely to be recycled (about 20 percent of paper bags are recycled, compared to under 1 percent of plastic bags).

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