Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Did Anyone Else Catch This?

From the CBC News:

It's Official: Manitoba town gives plastic bags the boot

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.

"Everybody's on board," he told CBC News. "Our Co-op store and Fields, they're really supporting our initiative. And in fact, our Co-op store has offered a challenge to all of Federated to go bag-free across Canada." The transition started almost a year ago when the town imposed a levy on plastic shopping bags, Cherrier said. Since September, very few one-time use plastic bags have been seen in Leaf Rapids, about 980 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

It's estimated that a traditional plastic bag takes 1,000 years to dissolve.
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.

John Roach, the assistant manager of the Co-op grocery store, told Canadian Press recently that customer feedback to the ban has been overwhelmingly positive. He said the store went through at least 2,000 plastic bags a week and the litter they created was an eyesore.

The ban idea is catching on. Late last month, San Francisco became the first city in North America to ban the use of traditional plastic grocery bags.


D J & E Huber said...

Indeed, and it may be a good idea. But, one needs to consider whether paper is actually better than plastic.

We use reusable bags now, which is optimal. But, it may be that plastic is better than paper in the absence of reusable bags. From a company that sells reusable bags:

1. Paper bags take more energy to manufacture.
2. Paper bag manufacture puts out more pollutants.
3. Recycling paper bags takes more energy than recycling plastic bags.

Living in a pulp mill town, #2 is particularly relevant. Paper manufacture REALLY stinks.

So, I'd say that many of these initiatives are half-baked, in reality. It would be better to encourage/persuade/convince people to use reusable bags (as J and I already do), rather than try to legislate morality and, in the process, force the use of something that is actually worse for the environment. In addition, challenging people to reuse their disposable bags as garbage bags (which would end up being landfill-neutral as people already use garbage bags) and providing ways for people to recycle plastic bags would also go a long way.

Legislation is not always the answer. In fact, creative law makers can probably get more done with a bit of research (e.g., which is ACTUALLY worse, paper or plastic?) and novel solutions to guide people to do the right thing.

Basically, I think that the folks in Manitoba are out to lunch. Of course, that generally goes without saying anyhow :)

Just my two-bits worth.

Chris said...

I brought my reusable Save-On Foods bag with me to Glasgow and I try to remember to take it with me.

I think my main complaint about the whole plastic bag issue is how few communities have the facilities to recycle them.

Paper recycling is just about everywhere now (even Oliver BC). But plastic bags not so much.

If you are going to use a product that is recyclable, that's kind of a moot point if no one will take it.

I've posted before about how few things are recyclable here in Glasgow and how much over-packaging there is.

I am horrified at how much garbage this creates a week.

D J & E Huber said...

You should start a recycling company, if none exist there. It might be profitable. Do you know any venture capitalists? :)

Laureen said...

Hey Chris,
Looks like you have a lot of things on the go with your crusade right now. Glad to see you are keeping busy. You are an impressive blogger. I on the other hand suck. I'll try to improve as my life hopefully becomes a little more stable in the not too distant future. I had a job interview the other day and it sounds very promising and I'm going for some testing today in typing and medical terminology, so if I pass that, everything should sail fairly smoothly. I'll update my blog soon and inform the world of the goings on in my life. Talk to you soon.

Jimmy said...

I feel you have to consider where the idea that plastic bags are bad got into your head.
90% of mass media information is propaganda and the other 10% is garbled.
If we take it all in our lines of thought can become like phone lines littered with the plastic bags of misinformation, these are the kind of plastic bags I'm more concerned about.
As for literal plastic bags, I like them.

Chris said...

Plastic bags are bad if there is no facility to recycle them. They don't breakdown in a landfill. The local. I've only found one Sainsbury store that has a bad deposit to drop off their plastic bags for recycling and it takes me 45 minutes to walk there (and I have done it specifically just to drop off my bags, and perhaps pick up a sticky toffee pudding).

However, Asda delivery has just now included as part of their home delivery service the picking up and recycling of plastic grocery bags (anyone's not just theirs). So that's a good thing.

I'm not saying plastic bags are evil and have caused everything that is wrong with the world. BUT, if you are going to use something that will not breakdown in a landfill then you better figure out a way to recycle it.

That's enough on this subject.

New topic....

What's the deal with sweet corn in everything?

Jimmy said...

Thank you Chris it's kind of you to reply.
I was wondering what was missing from the picture of your cooked chicken - sweet corn of course.