Introduction

BAN THE BAG VICTORIA… and surrounding municipalities!

A local campaign to end the use of single-use plastic checkout bags in Victoria and the surrounding municipalities. 

 

WHY A BAG BAN BYLAW?

According to the Canadian government, Canadians use nearly 15 billion plastic bags PER YEAR.

Marine mammals and seabirds can not survive our plastic pollution. Each year, up to one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals die from ingestion of or entanglement in plastics.

Take Action

Simple local actions can help make an impact to solve this global issue. Join us in protecting the coast and rise above plastics!

  • Bring your own bag when you go shopping!
  • Share and encourage your friends and family via social media to participate and to get involved.
  • Participate in a Surfrider Vancouver Island Lobbying training. Follow our Facebook page to see events posted here.
  • Sign a petition at our next event, beach cleanup, or Chapter meeting. Visit our calendar page for the next event.
  • Tell local business owners that you are in support of a plastic bag ban bylaw.
  • Drop in on a council meeting and tell your mayor and councillors that you want to see a bylaw inacted.
  • Become a part of the RAP team and be the change! Contact Ali @ rap@vancouverisland.surfrider.org
  • Like our RAP Facebook page.

WHY ARE WE PUSHING FOR A BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS?

Single-use plastics in the retail marketplace have a significant environmental impact and provide only a short-lived service that can be met more effectively and environmentally soundly, through the adoption of re-usable bags.

Improperly disposed-of plastic bags litter our oceans, towns, parks and landfills, enter storm drains and can eventually end up in rivers and oceans where they break into small, toxic and unrecoverable pieces.  Plastics are commonly found in and on Vancouver Island’s rivers, lakes and beaches, frequently harming marine wildlife and entering our food webs. Around the world, plastic bags are consistently listed as a top ten item found on beach cleanups. Some estimates suggest that up to 100,000 marine and coastal animals are killed each year by marine plastic debris[1].

Reusable grocery and retail bags will avoid the petroleum resources needed to make single-use plastic bags, and the pollution caused by those processes. The reuseable bags will also drastically help keep ‘throw-away’ plastics out of landfills and out of our sensitive ecosystems, making just one important, small step to reduce the negative impacts of single-use packaging.

A study in San Jose, California revealed that their 2011 plastic bag ban reduced plastic debris by “approximately 89 percent in the storm drain system, 60 percent in the creeks and rivers, and 59 percent in city”, while Ireland’s plastic bag tax has led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag waste[2].

GET INFORMED!

1

ARE PLASTIC BAGS RECYCLABLE IN VICTORIA’S BLUE BINS?

No, plastic bags are only recycled at certain grocery stores and locations.

Most soft plastics from Victoria are sorted and shipped to Vancouver waste dealers, before being crated and sold to recyclers oversees, all of which requires additional energy, resources and pollution to process.

Surfrider estimates that while bags cost only 2-5 cents to manufacture, they impose over 17 cents each in clean-up costs, which are borne by residents through higher taxes and infrastructure management costs[3].

2

IF I RECYCLE MY PLASTIC BAGS, ISN’T THAT BETTER THAN PUTTING THEM IN THE GARBAGE?

After years of recycling programs, recycling rates of single-use plastics are dangerously low. In some cities interested in ban-the-bag campaigns, recycling rates are still less than 5 percent, which clearly illuminates that more incentives are required to reduce waste volumes. Recycling rates and statistics are not available for the Victoria region.

3

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A REUSABLE BAG?

All local grocers and retail outlets should carry paper bags, in lieu of plastics, once the ban has taken place. It is important that these bags are derived from 100% post consumer recycled paper and also are properly recycled after use.

4

WHAT ABOUT DEGRADABLE, BIODEGRADABLE, COMPOSTABLE AND OXY-DEGRADABLE BAGS? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE AND SHOULD WE JUST USE THOSE INSTEAD?

Biodegradable and compostable bags are not meant to be carryout (shopping) bags. They’re specifically designed as liners for kitchen food waste containers.

Some plastic film or composite-material bags on the market claim to be “biodegradable” but are just “greenwashing.” Some merchants mistakenly use or sell these. For more information on what is compostable, please visit the Compost Education Centre in person or visit their website. www.compost.bc.ca

We should only use bags with the following characteristics:

  • Compostable plastic bags labeled with a certification logo
  • Paper bags labeled with 40% post-consumer recycled content
  • Reusable checkout bags designed for at least 125 uses and are washable

5

I USE MY PLASTIC BAGS MORE THEN ONCE, SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

While some people may use their single-use plastic bags more than once, the average Canadian can use several hundred bags a year. Single-use plastic bag manufactures created the plastic bag to be used only once and then thrown away. Therefore, the amount of plastic waste globally is growing at an exponential rate and is creating devastating impacts particularly in the marine environment. There is just too much plastic in the world to support an industry that is creating major negative impacts to waterways. There are alternatives and better solutions.

6

WHAT DO I USE FOR GARBAGE BAGS?

Line your waste bin with newspaper. As the Ctiy of Victoria already requires compost to be separated from our waste stream, your garbage shouldn’t be too messy or smelly.

If absolutely necessary, the City is already helping to leverage economies of scale and offering compostable bags for a discounted price. (roll of 90 for $10)

https://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/residents/garbage-recycling.html

7

WHAT ABOUT BAGS FOR VEGETABLES AND MEAT IN STORES AND OTHER PLASTIC BAGS LIKE NEWSPAPER AND DRY-CLEANING BAGS? ARE THEY ALSO BANNED?

No. Bags used by customers inside stores to package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy or small hardware items are still allowed, as are bags to wrap frozen foods, ice cream, meat or fish, flowers and other items where dampness is a problem. Newspaper and dry-cleaning bags are still OK, too, and of course you can still purchase packages of garbage bags, yard waste bags and bags for pet waste.

8

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER SINGLE-USE PLASTIC IN OUR LIVES?

You’re right to be concerned about all the other single-use plastics and the waste that they generate. We have a shared responsibility to reduce, re-use, and finally – recycle those products so that they are re-processed properly.

We will have to work together in the future to find better ways to reduce plastic waste and improve all our packaging strategies with their full life-cycle in mind!

9

WOULD CHARGING MORE MONEY FOR PLASTIC BAGS BE A BETTER INCENTIVE FOR PEOPLE TO REDUCE SINGLE-USE PLASTICS?

Ireland has had significant success with their bag-tax and charging remains an option to discourage single-use plastic bags. Our campaign is choosing to focus on restricting the use of these bags as our method for driving change, which aligns closely with Surfrider International’s vision for ocean plastic stewardship.

REFERENCES

[1]

WWF

[2]

unk. (2014). “Do Plastic Bag Bans work?”. Scientific American. 14 Oct. Available online at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-plastic-bag-bans-work/

[3]

Howe, A. (2014). “The proliferation of the plastic bag…ban”. Surfrider Foundation. Available online at: http://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/the-proliferation-of-the-plastic-bagban

Project Lead

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