BC considering provincewide ban on plastic shopping bags

Provincewide bag ban?

The provincial government is considering banning all B.C. retailers from providing customers with plastic carry-out bags.

It plans to reveal whether it will enact such a ban within weeks.

The Ministry of the Environment sought public input on whether to enact a ban on plastic bags at retail checkouts last summer, and it received 35,000 responses.

“Based on that public and stakeholder feedback, the ministry is considering a series of actions to reduce plastics in our environment,” a ministry statement read. “Those actions could include bans on several kinds of single-use packaging, expanding producer responsibility for plastic recycling, stepping up our bottle deposit system, and other appropriate policy or regulatory changes.”

Whatever the government announces will align with efforts of local and regional governments, it said.  

“It will take all levels of government working together to make the difference so many Canadians want to see.”

The news comes on the heels of Surrey mayor Doug McCallum earlier this week directing his city’s staff to draft bylaws so a plastic-bag ban could go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. If that takes place, his city will join the City of Vancouver, which in November banned retailers from providing carry-out plastic bags starting on Jan. 1, 2021. Plastic bags for fruit in grocery stores will still be allowed.

The City of Victoria in December 2017 passed a bylaw banning retailers from providing plastic bags at checkouts starting July 1, 2018, and it required retailers to charge $0.15 each for paper bags.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia then in July 2019 struck down Victoria’s ban on the grounds that the city needed the approval of B.C.’s environment minister because the matter is provincial jurisdiction.

The City of Vancouver operates under a different legal charter than does Victoria, and city staff believe the Vancouver Charter provides the city the ability to act.

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