Nfld. & Labrador

Provincial plastic bag ban in the works, but could take a year

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment Graham Letto introduced a bill to change the environmental protection act to allow for a ban on plastic bags.

Bill presented in House of Assembly Thursday, after lengthy consultations

Some municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador have already banned plastic bags. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

A province-wide ban on plastic bags is now in the works, although it's not expected to be a quick process. 

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment Graham Letto presented a bill in the House of Assembly Thursday afternoon that would allow for provincial ban on plastic bags in retail stores.

"Right now it's a proposal ... it has to go through the House of Assembly to be approved," he said.

Bill 1 is a proposal to change the Environmental Protection Act to allow for an outright ban on the bags, he said.

Letto said the second reading is set for early next week, and then it could take six to 12 months to develop and pass the legislation. 

'Ready for it'

Although Letto said the public consultation process attracted an "overwhelmingly positive response" to banning plastic bags, there has been some concern about losing them. 

"People have lots of uses for them so there was some concern around that. But for the most part I believe the province is ready for it," he said.

Environment Minister Graham Letto says people have been very engaged in the public consultation process on the idea of banning plastic bags. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The minister said of all the issues posted to engageNL – a website for government feedback from the public – this plastic bag ban discussion received more response than any other in the history of the program.

In terms of fees and an effective transition period, the province is looking at other jurisdictions to see how bans were implemented elsewhere.

"We have gathered quite a bit of information now to develop the regulations," said Letto.

The idea of a province-wide ban on the bags was first floated in 2015, and since then the government has been mulling over whether to implement it — and the best way to do it.

Meanwhile, a number of communities — including all of Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador — have already taken it on themselves to enact local bans. The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, a crown corporation, eliminated plastic bags last fall

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