Nanaimo set to approve bylaw to ban plastic shopping bags

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The city of Nanaimo is set to adopt a bylaw to eliminate the use of plastic shopping bags and set fees for paper and new reusable bags. The bylaw received provincial approval and can be approved by council on July 1.

“This is another important practical step in making real one of our four strategic themes — namely, environmental responsibility by individually reducing our collective carbon footprint,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.

Paper bags will need to contain at least 40 per cent post-consumer recycled content and be labelled as recyclable, according to the city. Reusable bags for sale should be washable and capable of at least 100 uses.

The regulation will list exemptions, including small paper bags, bags for bulk foods and produce, wrap for flowers and multi-packs of plastic bags. The regulation will prohibit the distribution of compostable and biodegradable checkout bags, the city said. 

The province approved four communities for bylaws to ban single-use plastic bags and declared Feb. 15 as plastic pollution awareness day.

“This is a day for us to recognize the progress we’ve made and commit to redoubling our efforts moving forward,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy.

Surrey, Rossland and Esquimalt also had plastic bylaws approved. The province is also moving ahead on the regulatory groundwork to allow local governments to implement bans on single-use plastics without requiring provincial approval, according to a government news release.

“February 15 being proclaimed the provincial plastic pollution awareness day brings even more awareness and education around this important topic. We look forward to continue working with the community on all our Zero Waste goals,” said Kirsten Gellein, zero waste coordinator of Nanaimo.

The city said it will begin an education and awareness campaign to assist residents and businesses with the transition.

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