Does council have the gumption to ban plastic bags?

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
April 10, 2018 - 5:00am Updated: April 10, 2018 - 10:51am

IT SEEMS STRANGE TO ME, with all the environmental problems we face — climate change, greenhouse gases, air pollution — we can’t figure out what to do about plastic bags.

Not that we aren’t trying. The city of Montreal has banned them, except for carrying things like fresh produce and medications. Victoria is trying to ban them, though the Canadian Plastic Bag Association is challenging it in the courts.

California bans them across the state, as do half the states in Indian and several African and European countries.

The U.K. has cut plastic-bag usage by 85 per cent.

But we have to try harder. It’s estimated that by 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will weigh more than all the fish in the sea, and those little plastic bags are a big part of the problem.

Communities struggle to find ways to recycle them. A recent CBC News series called Reduce, Reuse and Rethink, concluded that changing lifestyles have had a dramatic impact on the cost of recycling.

Today’s recycling programs were designed for yesterday’s products, like newspapers, for example. They were easy to recycle, but nobody reads them anymore. Now, recycling programs are all about plastics, which are easily contaminated, more expensive to collect and harder to sort.

And, of course, China won’t take our recycled stuff anymore.

I’m convinced that charging a few pennies for each plastic bag at the till isn’t working, and that the best way to stop the plastic bag tsunami is to just ban the things.

So why doesn’t Kamloops get on the plastic-ban bandwagon even if it will take some time to sort out the legalities? Coun. Arjun Singh pushed for it a dozen years ago. Is there anyone on council now with the stones to take up the torch?

Is there enough public support to help convince them? I leave that question to you.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.