Should P.E.I. ban single-use plastic bags?

Single-use plastic bags will be largely banned on Prince Edward Island if Liberal MLA Allen Roach can manoeuvre his private member's bill through the legislature.

Bill includes charges for paper bags

Plastic carry bags like this are the target of Allen Roach's bill. (CBC)

Single-use plastic bags will be largely banned on Prince Edward Island if Liberal MLA Allen Roach can manoeuvre his private member's bill through the legislature.

The former finance minister, a back bencher since announcing he will not seek re-election, introduced the Plastic Bag Reduction Act Thursday night.

"It's time. This is an issue right across the world," said Roach.

We can't rely on other places to send our garbage, says Roach. (P.E.I. Legislative Assembly)

"I've heard stories about the tonnes and tonnes of plastic that's in storage that now China's not going to take. So I think we can't continue to rely on places to send that garbage."

The act would see what it describes as plastic check-out bags — those designed primarily to transport purchases — entirely banned, and a fee put in place for paper check-out bags. There would be some exceptions to the plastic bag ban, such as

  • Wrapping frozen foods, meat or fish.
  • Packaging loose fruit or vegetables.
  • Packaging loose hardware such as nails or screws.
  • For clothes after dry cleaning.
  • Packaging medicines or medical supplies.

A customer asking for a bag could be sold a paper bag for at least 15 cents or a reusable bag for at least a dollar. Reusable bags would have to be washable and designed for at least 100 uses.

Roach said his intention would be for implementation to be gradual to give businesses time to adjust to the changes.

Individuals breaching the act would face fines between $50 and $500. Businesses could be fined as much as $10,000.

With China no longer taking them, many of Canada's plastic bags are now going to landfills. (Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC)

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With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan