The City of Wetaskiwin’s single-use shopping bag ban took effect Tuesday, July 9 which forbids retailers from offering the ubiquitous plastics bags thinner than 2.0 mils in thickness for customer use, except in a few instances.
According to the City of Wetaskiwin, the only exceptions to the single-use shopping bag ban include plastic produce bags, plastic bags to contain fresh meat or fish products, plastic bags for bulk food or bulk hardware items, plastic bags for freshly prepared bakery items, plastic bags for wrapping flowers or potted plants, dry-cleaning bags or other professional laundering bags and plastic bags used to contain dirty, greasy or hazardous products or materials.
There has been a great deal of discussion and concern about the effect such plastic shopping bags are having on not just the local environment, but the national and international scene too.
According to the City of Wetaskiwin, “A person uses a plastic carrier bag on average for only 12 minutes.
“On average we only recycle one plastic bag in every 200 we use.
“Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
“Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC, one group alone harvests 30,000 per month.
“According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, plastic bags have gone “from being rare in the late 80s and early 90s to being almost everywhere.” Plastic bags have been found floating north of the Arctic Circle near Spitzbergen, and as far south as the Falkland Islands. (Source: British Antarctic Survey)
“Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation.
Different retailers are handling the ban in different ways. Several have eliminated plastic bags entirely at their stores; some are offering alternatives.
With the number of retailers at The Wetaskiwin Mall, the shopping bag ban will have an effect. Promotions coordinator Brandy Pfeil said the mall has a plan in place.
“The plastic bag ban is a positive step toward helping the environment, so we’re thrilled to be supporting it at Wetaskiwin Mall,” said Pfeil in an email July 8.
“We also want to make it as easy as we can on our customers, as everyone gets into the habit of bringing reusable bags to the mall. Soon we will offer eco-friendly tote bags to our customers.
“Until then, we will be encouraging everyone to bring their own bags by offering incentives in the form of regular draws. Individual stores in the mall will also offer alternative bag options for a small fee.”