Fort Mac Fact, No. 7,821: We’re Banning (Some) Plastic Bags in September

Reusable bag courtesy of KRISnFred

courtesy of KRISnFred

Locals know (well, maybe not all of them, but they should) that the RMWB voted to pass Bylaw No. 09/033 which bans “single-use plastic shopping bags” – and this bylaw will be effective September 1, 2010. A local high-school student, Sean Graham, set the ball in motion back in 2008.

What This Means

Basically, it means folks will have to remember to pack their linen (or plastic) heavy duty, multi-use shopping bags before they head out the door to their preferred supermarket (mine are either the Save-On-Foods downtown or the Safeway in Thickwood). Of course, they could always bring their groceries back home in paper bags… old-school style.

RMWB Councillor Mike Allen (@Mike_Allen47 on twitter),was quoted in a National Post article on the subject:

As a community we’re very strongly environmentally conscious. Frankly, we get a bad rap. Fort McMurray is associated almost singularly with oil sands and the external media tends to focus on the negative rather than what is being done and what is positive. Right from industry right down to the mother who’s doing the shopping, we’re always looking at ways at improving our environmental footprint.”

I Have Some Questions Though…

garbage: plastic bag, courtesy of Zen

courtesy of Zen

A few things I’ve been thinking about revolve around points like:

1) When you look at the complete product cycle of plastic vs paper bags, which one is more environmentally friendly? (taking into account emissions, recycling, forestry, product life-cycle etc..). My gut tells me that paper is still the way to go, and like Colbert, I trust my gut.

Opponents of a “plastic bag free” future point to some facts around plastic bags, facts like they “use 40% less energy to produce and generate 80% less solid. waste than paper” etc. When I went to follow the references in the “Top 10 Myths About Plastic Grocery Bags“, the first link shows this message from the EPA:

EPA’s New England regional office removed the “Paper vs. Plastic bag” Web content several years ago after conducting a periodic evaluation of that content for its accuracy.”

So until someone shows me some cold, hard facts, I’ll take the paper/reusable bags over the one-time use bags. (And yes, I know a lot of people use them more than once)

2) Is it true, as the National Post article says, that bags “from fast-food restaurants, pharmacies, liquor stores and bags used to purchase bulk items like produce are exempt from the ban“?

The Bylaw states under the “Exemption” section that:

9. There are no organizations exempt from this bylaw

So why did the National Post point out that some folks will be exempt if the bylaw states no-one is exempt? I’m not clear on this. Anyone know what this is all about?

There We Have It

The bags, starting September 1st, will be gone. So why not start getting into the habit of keeping a couple reusable bags in the trunk now?

Some Web Resources on the Topic

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One response to “Fort Mac Fact, No. 7,821: We’re Banning (Some) Plastic Bags in September

  1. This is a really interesting item. Thanks for sharing it. I think it’s great that places are willing to get rid of plastic bags and, in turn, the waste that they become. It’s a slight effort to bring reusable bags when you go shopping with a large impact in the long run. Thanks again.