New Brunswick

Saint John to ban plastic bags on July 1

Saint John city council voted Monday night to ban plastic bags at retailers, with the ban set to come into effect on July 1.

Grand Bay-Westfield, Hampton and Quispamsis have already voted to ban plastic bags

Saint John city council voted Monday night to ban plastic bags at retailers effective July 1. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Saint John is looking to go more green this summer.

City council voted Monday night to ban plastic bags at retailers, with the ban set to come into effect on July 1.

This comes after the neighbouring communities of Grand Bay-Westfield, Hampton and Quispamsis have already voted to ban plastic bags.

Rothesay council will vote on a bag ban in April.

Brenda MacCallum, program development officer with the Fundy Regional Service Commission, said the imminent ban is good news for the movement to get rid of plastic bags.

The commission has been urging municipalities to ban plastic bags and stopped accepting them for recycling last year.

She said Saint John's ban will complement neighbouring municipalities' bans.

"This is the last piece that we need," said MacCallum.

"They're our urban core, the major centre with the majority of our shopping and retail."

MacCallum said the idea of a plastic bag ban has long been discussed in the city, and while there may be some people still wary of the idea, she believes people will get used to the change without much difficulty.

"Nova Scotia implemented it in October 2020, right during the pandemic and no issues," said MacCallum. 

"People understand, they understand how you work with it and we can go ahead and bring in our own bags as we go shopping."

MacCallum said it's not just grocery stores that will be ditching plastic bags under the ban, all retailers will have to do so.

And while some retailers may begin to offer paper bags, they are more expensive and stores may charge for them, which MacCallum says drives home the point of using reusable bags.

But she said plastic bags won't leave entirely as there are a few small exemptions to the ban, such as bags for live fish or for newspapers.

"There are some examples, some things that wouldn't fit in a reusable bag, that type of thing," said MacCallum. 

"It's kind of a common sense list. But really, at the end of the day, don't go into a store without your bag, your reusable bag."

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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