Ontario liquor stores ban plastic bags

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario has announced it is phasing out plastic shopping bags at its retail outlets.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario has announced it is phasing out plastic shopping bags at its retail outlets.

The LCBO estimates it provides shoppers with about 80 million bags per year. Liquor stores will continue to offer paper bags and cardboard boxes for purchases once the current supply of plastic bags runs dry.

David Caplan, minister of public infrastructure renewal, and John Gerretsen, minister of the environment, announced the changes Tuesday afternoon.

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"We're going to take a bold step, we're going to lay down the challenge to other retailers and people across Ontario and across the country to think of other kinds of measures like this that consumers are clamouring for," Caplan said.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association says such bans are unnecessary as plastic bags can be reused and recycled.

"The decision to drop plastic shopping bags but keep paper bags at LCBO outlets is a political decision, not a decision based on science," said Serge Lavoie, president and CEO of the CPIA in a release.

"Once people understand that plastic bags are 100 per cent recyclable and are a better environmental choice than paper, they'll make informed decisions based on fact."

In March, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty suggested the province should follow Nova Scotia's lead to ban plastic bags from liquor stores. Nova Scotia liquor stores will stop providing the plastic bags this fall, while Quebec is slated to follow in 2009. Manitoba has also announced it will not be replenishing plastic bag stocks.

The plastic bag ban is part of a growing environmental movement that began in March 2007 when San Francisco became the first North American city to ban non-recyclable plastic bags made from petroleum products.

The Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids followed suit later that month, becoming the first Canadian municipality to block retailers from selling or distributing plastic bags.

Plastic bags dissolve over 1,000 years, according to the environmental research group Worldwatch Institute. The group says consumers around the globe dispose of 500 billion plastic sacs every year.

With files from the Canadian Press