Plastic bag fees should be legislated, council says
Conservation Council says fees reduced the number of plastic bags used
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick says the provincial government should consider legislating a mandatory fee for plastic bags as a way to limit the use of the products.
NB Liquor became the latest corporation to scrap a fee for plastic bags earlier this week. Grocery stores have also stopped including a bag fee on customers.
But some environmentalists say these are steps backwards in the fight to reduce the use of plastic bags.
David Coon, the executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said the small fees were effective in convincing consumers to bring their own bags.
"I think that the stores will tell you that their bag consumption dropped dramatically with this in place, and it will rise just as dramatically without it," he said.
If businesses are going to stop imposing the fees, Coon said the provincial government should step in.
"This is ripe for government policy to expand the current approach to try and help our society reduce its production of waste and its consumption of material and energy," he said.
The extra fees for plastic bags were supported by some shoppers, such as Lorinda Legere.
Legere said she is opposed to stores giving out the plastic bags.
"It's toxic so we should not have them at all," she said.
"If we don't have them at all and people will be forced to buy the real good bags and they'll see how important it is, and how good it is."
In 2010, a federal MP proposed a bill that would scrap the use of plastic bags across the country.
While environmentalists some shoppers believe the fees were useful, some businesses say they angered other customers.
Marcelle Saulnier, a spokesperson for NB Liquor, said consumer reaction was one reason why the Crown corporation decided to stop charging the fee.
She said people were complaining about the extra costs being added to their bills.
"Whenever someone was buying $150 worth of product, and they were charged a bit on top of that just for bags. It wasn't leaving them with the experience we wanted them to get," she said.
Atlantic Superstores also changed their policy and is once again offering free plastic bags to its shoppers.
But the stores did not drop the fee because of complaints from the public.
Instead a statement issued by Loblaw Companies Ltd. said the decision was made because its corporate competitors did not impose their own fees.
"None of our major competitors in the Atlantic followed our lead and attempted to reduce plastic bag use with a charge system, while many of those same competitors have implemented a charge for bag program in other regions that they operate, which are also the same markets we operate in. We remain mindful of our business environment in [the] Atlantic," the statement said.