City asks for report weighing pros and cons of banning sale of retail plastic bags

Prince Albert city council is asking for a report on prohibiting the sale of single use plastic retail bags as a way to keep plastic out of the city’s landfill.

Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp brought the motion forward during Monday’s meeting. She emphasized that she’s just looking for more information at the decision, but said council needs to do something to curtail the amount of plastic ending up in trashcans and garbage disposal bins across Prince Albert.

“I think it may move us in a good direction,” Lennox-Zepp said during the meeting. “This, I think, is a good part of the process. It’s getting a report to inform us in a better way … if this is a direction that we want to move.”

Lennox-Zepp added that some cities, like Montreal and Victoria, have already banned the sale of single use plastic retail bags, while others like Toronto were looking into the matter.

The motion received strong support from council, with many members saying they were happy to take a closer look at the matter.

“I think it’s a valuable report for us to see,” Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards said. “I’ve had numerous citizens talk to me about banning retail plastic bags. They’re everywhere in our community. They’re filling up our garbage dump.”

The main concern is that too many plastic bags simply aren’t being recycled. Some, like Ward 4 Coun. Don Cody, worried that organizations like Crown Shred in Regina would no longer take plastics, or take a significantly reduced number.  Cody also expressed concerns about news reports that countries like China were no longer taking recycled plastic.

“We may be in some difficulties over the years unless we do get rid of some of this kind of material,” Cody said. “I’m going to support this motion, just because we can get a report and then go from there.”

Instead, these bags seem to be ending up in Prince Albert’s landfill. Mayor Greg Dionne says he’s written letters to Saskatchewan’s Environment Minister asking him about the fee businesses charge when they sell plastic bags. He wants to know where that money is going, and whether it’s being used to aid recycling efforts.

The report will be sent to executive committee within the next 90 days. It will cover the possibility of charging retailers a fee for selling plastic bags, and the effects such a ban would have on the city’s landfill.