New Brunswick

Plastic better than paper, manufacturer says

A Saint John plastic bag manufacturer is concerned about a Manitoba town's plan to ban all plastic shopping bags.

A Saint John plastic bag manufacturer is concerned about a Manitoba town's plan to ban all plastic shopping bags.

The town of Leaf Rapids is banning the use of the bags beginning Monday tohelp reduce litter in and around the community.It's estimated a traditional plastic bag takes 1,000 years to dissolve.

The bylaw prevents retailers from selling or distributing the single-use bags. Ignoring the ban could result in a $1,000-per-day fine.

Officials handed out cloth shopping bags to each of the town's roughly 550 residents.

PCL Packaging in Saint John makes close to a billion plastic bags each year. Company spokeswoman Terry Ricketts said banning bags is an extreme way to deal with a litter problem and that plastic bags are better for the environment than many alternatives.

"In terms of the advantages that plastic may have over paper, something to consider is the energy required to put into the bag to make it," Ricketts said. "In the case of paper, because of its bulk in size and volume and the processes required to make it in the first place, to recycle it, to get it to market, it uses far more energy than a plastic bag does."

Ricketts said she would support a tariff on plastic bags, similar to that on plastic bottles.

She said encouraging people to recycle or reuse bags instead of throwing them away would deal with litter issues.

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