Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Monday, February 4, 2008

OK, so they punted it to Metro Vancouver...

... but the ball is still moving forward!

Vancouver City Council added some finesse to the strategy by clarifying that it's not just plastic bags that are the problem, but all "free" carry-out grocery bags. The fact that these are free masks the hidden cost, which is of course passed on to Mother Nature and our grandchildren, not to mention rate-payers here in the community.

When the bag issue goes to Metro Vancouver, we'll be talking about strategies to eliminate "free" bags of any sort.

This issue will not go away, even though the folks who have been enjoying the "free" ride (grocers and their bag suppliers) downplay its importance. To their credit, more and more retailers see the handwriting on the wall and are showing how easy it is to change. Whole Foods/Capers will eliminate plastic bags by Earth Day of this year. Ikea Canada has been "taxing" carry-out bags since last October. Overwaitea/Sav-On have been taking back plastic bags for years.

But that doesn't stop an estimated 12,000 tonnes of carry out bags from ending up in the region's disposal facilities each year, to say nothing of the uncounted ones in the gutters, parks and roadsides.

This week's buzz is about great coverage in the New York Times of Ireland's now legendary plastax, which a correspondent called "one of the most astounding examples of tax policy shifting consumer behavior I have ever seen!"

The NYTimes reported: "...the environment minister told shopkeepers that if they changed from plastic to paper, he would tax those bags, too.....While paper bags, which degrade, are in some ways better for the environment, studies suggest that more greenhouse gases are released in their manufacture and transportation than in the production of plastic bags."

(pic: New York Times)


Andrew said...

You forgot to mention that Canadian Superstore also charges for bags and has been doing so for at least 5 years.

Sharon Jackson said...

I am on Duncan City Council. We are a small town in the middle of a large regional district. This issue has to be looked at regionally for us, since If we passed a no-plastic-bag bylaw, it would target a very few retailers and not the big guys at all. We still hope this can be a regional issue. What our public works department has done, however, has moved from plastic to biodegradable bags for the city garbage in all the public trash cans. For a small area (one square mile)the Operations Manager figured we were using 4000 bags a year. So not only are we not sending 4000 large bags to the dump every year that will not break down, but we are saving 1/3 the cost as the degradable bags are cheaper. We will be letting as many people as possible know about this in the near future.