Edmonton

Fort McMurray bans single-use bags

Fort McMurray has become the first municipality in Alberta to ban both plastic and paper shopping bags.

Fort McMurray has become the first municipality in Alberta to ban both plastic and paper shopping bags.

The bylaw bans single-use bags, including biodegradable shopping bags, but allows bags from fast-food restaurants, bags for bulk use like produce and bags from pharmacies and liquor stores.

The issue first came before the council more than two years ago, said John Vyboh, a councillor with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

"The initial reaction from our administration was to really just go with an education program," he said.

But then Sean Graham, a high school student, got involved.

Graham says a documentary he saw in his Grade 10 class motivated him to begin collecting signatures on a petition to ban plastic bags. He collected 2,300 signatures in about six weeks and presented them to city council.

Graham says he's pleased by the bylaw, which takes effect in September 2010, and hopes it prompts other communities to follow suit.

"I hope they look at this and say: 'You know, if a place like Fort McMurray can do this' — which is a very reluctant community to make moves like this to help clean up the environment — 'we should be able to as well.'"

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