New Brunswick

Retailers need 'harmonized approach' when banning single-use plastics, council says

If the federal government wants to ban single-use plastics, it will need to come up with a consistent national strategy for businesses, the Retail Council of Canada says.

Ban against single-use plastics could come into effect as early as 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. (Canadian Press)

If the federal government wants to ban single-use plastics, it will need to come up with a consistent national strategy for businesses, the Retail Council of Canada says.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government will ban plastic bags, straws, cutlery and other single-use plastics as early as 2021. It's part of a larger strategy to tackle plastic pollution.

Jim Cormier, the Atlantic director of the Retail Council of Canada, supports such a move if the rules are the same across the country.

Customers should be able to enter any store and know there are certain types of packaging that are acceptable and some that aren't. Some plastic products that are still necessary could include products that "maintain food freshness," he said.

"If you have one set of rules where everybody has to follow, it allows you to create that harmonization, where everybody is doing the exact same thing," he said in an interview with Information Morning Moncton.

And he said all three levels of government need to work together to reduce the use of single-use plastics.

"That not only could be good for the environment, it's good to lessen customer confusion, like you have now, when you have different municipalities all doing different things," he said.

A national strategy would also lower operation costs for retailers, which would in turn result in better pricing for customers.

Banning plastic across Canada

Some municipalities in Canada have already moved to reduce plastic waste.

Tofino and Deep Cove, B.C., have banned plastic straws; Fogo Island, N.L., replaced plastic bags with alternatives; Montreal is banning the use of plastic bags and bottles, and St. John's promised in 2017 it would ban plastic bags.

Earlier this month, Moncton introduced a bylaw restricting businesses from distributing some single-use plastic bags by July 2020.

Riverview and Dieppe are looking to pass similar bylaws.

Jim Cormier, Atlantic director of the Retail Council of Canada, is urging all three levels of government to come together on a widespread prohibition against single-use plastics. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Over the years, Cormier has urged Moncton and other municipalities considering bans on single-use plastics to partner with other local governments or the province for a more widespread prohibition.

He said this would make it easier for larger retailers to comply because it would be easier to co-ordinate shipments and orders among different chains.

"Let's see what actually happens through this federal initiative," he said. "Are they going to make progress on this before an election is called? Who knows?"

With files from Information Morning Moncton, Hannah Thibedeau

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