Plastic bags no longer accepted into Saskatoon recycling bins

As of April 1, Saskatoon residents are no longer allowed to recycle plastic bags into the city’s blue bins.

Expert offers tips on avoiding plastic use

Plastic bags will no longer be accepted into blue recycling bins in Saskatoon. (Twitter/@grrbage )

As of April 1, Saskatoon residents are no longer allowed to recycle plastic bags into the city's blue bins.

Along with plastic shopping bags, the new rule applies to saran wrap, bread bags and plastic food packaging.

City council voted in favour of Loraas Recycle and Cosmopolitan Industries, the two companies responsible for city recycling, removing plastic bags from the blue bin program. The companies said they could no longer find a market to buy the low-grade plastic.

Naomi Mahilewicz, with the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, said the change will come as a wake up call to some residents.

"I think people are definitely starting to question both their own habits and what's offered to them," she said. "Because so much of what's offered to us is just single-use disposable plastic and you really have to go out of your way to avoid those things."

Mahilewicz urges shoppers to use reusable bags at the grocery store. She said her personal favourite are those made of nylon, which are more durable than cloth.

For produce and some bulk items, Mahilewicz said she uses clear mesh bags. She also suggests washable zippered pouches that can replace ziploc bags in your lunch box.

Bag Ban unlikely

When it comes to the widespread use of plastic bags, Mahilewicz said it's up to consumers to make a push for change. She suggests talking to stores about not offering them and complaining to companies that do.

Mahilewicz said a full-on plastic bag ban is not likely in Saskatoon yet because they don't make up the majority of what's in the garbage. She said the City of Saskatoon is more likely to target improvements to organic waste disposal and composting.

"That is such a huge volume of what we throw out and so easy to divert that I think we'll see them picking some of the more lower hanging fruit first," she said. "And then eventually as those start to change and we all have curbside composting, they're going to start moving away from some of those smaller things like plastic straws, plastic bags and some of those single-use plastic items."

If you want to get rid of some of the plastic shopping bags you have lying around, you can take them to food banks, daycares or preschools, which have a number of uses for them.

Or, they can always be used for picking up dog poop.