North

Zero Waste Yukon gathers signatures in support of single-use bag fee

Zero Waste Yukon is collecting signatures on a petition to increase fees on single-use retail bags throughout Yukon. Currently, Yukon retailers can charge a voluntary fee of five cents a bag.

Group says a higher fee could change shoppers' behaviour and reduce number of bags used

Zero Waste Yukon program coordinator Ira Webb says increasing the fee for single-use retail bags could change shoppers' behaviour and reduce the number of bags used. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Zero Waste Yukon had over 60 signatures this weekend on its petition to make fees for single-use retail bags mandatory and higher in the territory. The organization set up at Saturday's Indoor Community Garage Sale and Repair Cafe in Whitehorse. 

Currently, Yukon retailers can charge a voluntary fee of five cents a bag, but the organization said that's not enough. 

"We'd like to see a higher fee and have it be mandatory so that we're encouraging behaviour change and reducing the number of bags we're distributing in the territory," said Zero Waste Yukon's program coordinator Ira Webb.

Webb said a 25 cent fee was put into place in the Northwest Territories in 2011 and retail bag use has decreased by over 70 per cent. 

He said it's something that's worked, not only in Canada, but across the world. Ireland now has 22 cents for a bag and there has been a 90 per cent reduction in bag use, according to Webb.

Webb plans to bring the petition to the Yukon Legislative Assembly when it reconvenes for its spring sitting early next month.

"The nice thing is a lot of the legislation is written in the Northwest Territories so it would be a matter of copying a lot of that, I think, if we were to go ahead with it," said Webb.

Webb said there would be a mandatory consultation period, if legislation were to move forward.

He said the retail bag fee could be in place later this year or early next year if there's a push for it.

Zero Waste Yukon is continuing to collect signatures for the petition for the next several weeks, said Webb.

The petition can be found throughout Whitehorse, including at Riverside Grocery, Raven Recycling Society, Alpine Bakery and ChangingGear.

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