New Brunswick

Plastic bags won't be accepted for recycling in greater Saint John starting in March

The Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission plans to stop accepting plastic bags for recycling in March, and is urging greater Saint John municipalities to pass bylaws banning single-use plastic bags.

Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission says no market for bags, urges municipalities to ban them

Brenda MacCallum said the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission's other plastics go to Ontario and Quebec, but it can't find a market for plastic bags anymore. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

The Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission plans to stop accepting plastic bags for recycling in March and is urging greater Saint John municipalities to pass bylaws banning single-use plastic bags.

The commission has about 40 tonnes of plastic bags sorted and baled — roughly two years' worth stockpiled in its warehouse but no market for them, said Brenda MacCallum, the head of public relations and project development.

"And we're not seeing a glimmer of hope for those bags."

So starting March 1, it won't be taking them anymore and MacCallum is trying to get the message out.

She is encouraging people to start now to reduce plastic bag use.

The commission has also passed a motion recommending the five municipalities in the greater Saint John area follow the lead of other jurisdictions in Atlantic Canada and ban the bags.

Prince Edward Island, for example, where the management corporation was facing a similar stockpile of unwanted plastic bags when China stopped taking overseas recyclables in the fall of 2017, implemented the Plastic Bag Reduction Act on July 1, 2019.

The act prohibits businesses from offering plastic bags at the checkout, with a few exceptions, such as food safety reasons, for medications or dry cleaning.

Instead, businesses are required to charge a minimum of 15 cents for a paper bag and around $1 for reusable bags. Customers can also bring their own bags with them.

Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe have all introduced a similar bylaw expected to come into effect in July 2020, said MacCallum, noting the Retail Council of Canada has recommended such a harmonized approach to make it easier for businesses and consumers alike.

The Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission serves the City of Saint John, Town of Grand Bay-Westfield, Town of Hampton, Town of Quispamsis, Town of Rothesay and Village of St. Martins.

It also serves several local service districts, including Clarendon, Fairfield, Greenwich, Hampton, Kingston, Musquash, Petersville, Rothesay, St. Martins and Simonds. 

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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