Nova Scotia

N.S.'s single-use plastic bag ban plan 'not beneficial' for environment, says lobbyist

A legislature committee heard Monday from a plastics industry representative that Nova Scotia’s plan to ban single-use plastic bags wouldn’t work, while environmentalists called on the McNeil government to go even further.

'Misinformation, emotion, lack of science and education are driving the narrative,' says Joe Hruska

Joe Hruska, the vice-president of sustainability with the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, wants the McNeil government to consult industry and temporarily shelve the government's plan to ban single-use plastic bags. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

A legislature committee heard Monday from a plastics industry representative that Nova Scotia's plan to ban single-use plastic bags wouldn't work, while environmentalists called on the McNeil government to go even further.

Joe Hruska, vice-president of sustainability at the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, urged the province to delay passing the bill to give the industry more time to properly educate politicians on the issue.

"Social media and public pressures, I think, based on misinformation, emotion, lack of science and education are driving the narrative," Hruska told the law amendments committee during his 10-minute presentation. "We can state categorically those drivers will not solve your environmental problems."

He said "banning plastic bags is not beneficial to the environment."

Hruska said heavier, reusable plastic bags and those made of paper take more energy and materials to create and are thus worse for the environment.

Nova Scotia's single-use plastic bag ban is expected to be in place by September 2020. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

He said the industry was "shocked" at the speed at which the province introduced and planned to pass Bill 152 into law.

Theresa Quilty of Plastic Free Lunenburg offered a different view.

Although the group she represents was glad to see the province move to ban single-use bags, she urged the McNeil government to do even more.

Bill 152 currently exempts plastic bags used for bulk items, prepared food or bakery items. Quilty told the committee they should not be exempt.

"We believe that those are easy to also include and get rid of," she said.

Plastic Free Lunenburg representative Theresa Quilty testifies before the Nova Scotia Legislature's law amendments committee. Fellow presenter, former senator Wilfred Moore, looks on. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Quilty would like to see the ban extended to polystyrene for food use, plastic straws and cutlery.

"It makes a lot of sense and those are all low-hanging fruit, easy to get rid of," she said.

Quilty also called for a mandatory annual review of the proposed law so that other items could be added to the banned list.

"That would include single-serving condiment packets, disposable food and beverage containers under 750 millilitres," she said.

Nova Scotia aims to have the legislation in place by next September.

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