Nanaimo plastic bag regulation approved by city council

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Nanaimo residents have a little over four months before they will no longer be able to use plastic bags at retail checkouts.

The checkout bag regulation bylaw comes into effect July 1 and encourages the use of reusable bags by eliminating use of plastic bags and sets fees for paper bags and new reusable bags. 

“The City of Nanaimo is dedicated to protecting our environment and infrastructure. We are keen to reduce the impact that single-use checkout bags have in our community and beyond,” said Coun. Ben Geselbracht, chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s (RDN) Solid Waste Management Select Committee.

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

The regulation lists exemptions, including small paper bags, bags for bulk foods and produce, wrap for flowers, and multi-packs of plastic bags. The regulation prohibits the distribution of compostable and biodegradable checkout bags as some form harmful micro-plastics as they degrade.

Council unanimously adopted the bylaw at its last meeting, after receiving approval from the provincial government. George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy announced approval of the bylaw on Feb. 12.

The city said it has started an education and awareness campaign — for more information, visit www.nanaimo.ca/goto/BYOBag.

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