Nfld. & Labrador

Makkovik, Postville to eliminate plastic shopping bags

Two towns on Labrador's north coast will soon receive assistance from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to eliminate plastic shopping bags.

Nain brought in province's first banning of bags in 2009

Makkovik and Postville will be the latest communities in the province to begin the process of eliminating plastic shopping bags. (CBC)

Two towns on Labrador's north coast will soon receive assistance from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to eliminate plastic shopping bags.

Last week, the province announced nine recipients of this year's Community Waste Diversion Fund, including Makkovik and Postville. 

We don't even think about plastic bags here anymore.- Joe Dicker, Nain AngajukKaK

The funds will be used to distribute reusable bags to residents, and to educate community members about responsible waste management. 

In 2009, Nain became the first community in the province to ban plastic shopping bags. 

In an interview with Labrador Morning, Nain AngajukKaK Joe Dicker said residents have adjusted well to the change since the bylaw was brought in almost six years ago.

"The community was given a grace period of about a month, and on Nov. 30, 2009 it became effective," he said.

"It was having an impact on the wildlife, it's not environmentally-friendly, it costs a lot to clean up in the springtime. And the community government at the time decided they would do something about it." 

'Everything's clean'

Dicker said every spring before the bylaw came into effect, plastic bags were visible, and became a real eyesore.

"We don't even think about plastic bags here anymore. You can see the difference especially in the spring time when it's time for clean up, and there are no bags to clean up. Everything's clean," said Dicker.

"People are using paper boxes to carry their groceries, all the businesses provide bags for sale now. At the beginning, the Nain Inuit community government had bags available for free, two per household, and they were sponsored by some of the businesses in the community."

Dicker said delivery services are also available from local businesses.

"It was a positive thing and is still going on today, " he said.

Dicker said there's an exemption to certain bags, including the clear kind that residents can use for fruit and vegetables, ice and fresh meat. Those bags are available at stores in Nain.

Now that Postville and Makkovik are moving in the same direction as Nain did in 2009, Dicker had some advice for local councils.

"Give them a grace period so they can start adjusting to it, and make sure they do have time to adjust to the new way of shopping. Make sure they have cloth bags or bags they can carry, available for free for a certain period of time."

A plastic bag ban was put in place in the community of Hopedale on Jan. 2, 2013.