New Brunswick

Shoppers, retailers ready for new plastic bag bylaw in Moncton, Dieppe, Riverview

Shoppers in Moncton say not only are they ready for the switch away from single-use plastic bags, many have already stopped using them.

Move to restrict single-use plastic bags was delayed by pandemic, but will go ahead this week

Amanda Hopper is already using reusable bags instead of plastic when she visits the grocery store and said she always has a few on her front seat. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

Shoppers in Moncton say not only are they ready for the switch away from single-use plastic bags, many have already stopped using them.

Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview's tri-community plastic bag bylaw, which restricts retailers from distributing most single-use bags, comes into effect on Oct. 1.

The bylaw was supposed to go into effect July 1, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outside the grocery store, Amanda Hopper said the bylaw makes sense and will mean less waste.

"Just keep some in your car," Hopper said when asked how she remembers to bring her bags.

Shoppers in Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview will make the switch to reusable bags when a single-use plastic bag bylaw comes into effect on Oct. 1. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

Jolene Girouard agreed and said reducing the amount of plastic in the environment is "obviously" a good idea.

"It's a good thing. That's what we have to get used to — the new normal."

Retailers are ready

Elaine Aucoin, director of environmental planning and management for the City of Moncton, said people have had a while to get used to the idea.

Elaine Aucoin, director of environmental planning and management for the City of Moncton, said stores will be allowed to give out paper bags, but there will be a fee. (Submitted by Elaine Aucoin)

"I think the community is ready for this, and they were expecting it, so we didn't get any major objections from either the consumers or the retailers on it."

Jim Cormier, Atlantic director for the Retail Council of Canada, said retailers are now prepared for the move away from single-use plastic.

When it first came up, business owners asked for one year's notice so they would have time to plan, use the plastic single-use bags they had on hand, and order something different.

Cormier said retailers also appreciate that there are exceptions in the new bylaws.

"Things like when you're needing a bag for fresh produce or for fish, meats," he said. "Even in some of the hardware stores where you might need a small bag to pick up a few washers or screws, that sort of thing."

Jim Cormier, Atlantic director of the Retail Council of Canada, said members were polled in August and the majority said they are ready for an end to single-use plastic bags. (CBC)

As for concerns about bringing in the bylaw during a pandemic, Cormier said retailers were polled in August and asked if they wanted to push for a continued delay.

"The vast majority came back and said, 'No, no, we're fine. We're ready to go,'" he said.

Aucoin said the new rules are consistent with the rest of Atlantic Canada, and stores will still be allowed to provide paper bags to shoppers, but there will be a fee.

"It is consistent with Newfoundland and Labrador, whose act is in effect Oct. 1 as well as Nova Scotia, whose Plastic Bag Reduction Act takes effect on Oct. 30."

Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview are confident residents will find an alternative to single-use plastic bags when the new bylaw restricting them comes into effect Oct. 1. (City of Moncton)

Violating the bylaw in Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview could result in a fine between $140 and $2,100.

But Aucoin is expecting that won't be necessary, and that people will embrace the changes.

"I think people are ready and a lot of people already bring their reusable bags to the store, so I think if you haven't done so already, put some in your vehicle, put some smaller bags in your purse, and be ready to bring them with you anytime you visit a store," she said.

The three communities have created a website, mybagplan.ca, to provide more information for consumers and retailers.

About the Author

Kate Letterick is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.

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