Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) echoes the City of St. John’s in wanting a ban on plastic bags, and they’re putting pressure on the provincial government to grant the wishes of municipalities province wide.
The city of St. John’s does not have the authority to ban retailers from providing customers with plastic bags. The province must enact this ban, and it is dragging its heels. Initially, the province tried downloading the burden of enacting this ban onto municipalities like St. John’s, but as MNL President Tony Keats has said, the regulation of the retail sector must be a provincial responsibility to truly work.
“The provincial government must understand that most municipalities don’t have the administrative capacity to implement or enforce this ban at the local level,” says Keats. “We can only do this if a ban on single-use plastic bags happens at the provincial level. Doing it at the municipal level will be expensive, complicated, and it just won’t work.”
Despite existing recycling programs, biodegradable bag experiments, and widespread incentives to adopt reusable bags, there are still 100 million single-use plastic shopping bags used each year in our province.It surprises many to hear that producing 100 million plastic bags requires approximately 1.6 million litres of oil, which adds considerably to our carbon footprint.
MNL President Tony Keats adds that “almost 50% of all windborne litter escaping from landfills is plastic, much of it single-use plastic bags that end up tangled in trees or floating in our inland and coastal waters.” We’ve all seen the images of dead animals whose guts are filled with plastic.
If we can’t make the minimal effort of taking a reusable cloth bag to the store with us, our apathy is beyond salvation. But as many people have confessed on social media, the ban would finally force force us to start using reusable bags, and the general consensus is that ending our destructive laziness would be a good and welcome thing.
A provincial ban would also help municipalities collectively prevent thousands of tonnes of plastic from entering the waste stream in Newfoundland & Labrador. To quote Councillor Hanlon from a reason City Council meeting, “It’s a no-brainer,” isn’t it?