Plastic bags officially banned in Manitoba town
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, April 2, 2007 9:30AM EDT
The northern Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids is now officially Canada's first community to ban single-use plastic bags.
The town imposed the ban not only because of the detrimental impact the bags have on the environment but also because of the impact on the community's aesthetics, officials said.
"I've heard a lot of people talking about the unsightly scene of those bags," town administrator Bond Ryan told Canada AM on Monday. "I agreed and thought we could do something in our community to reduce the use of those bags and to make it a prettier place."
Ryan says the law will benefit the environment because the bags will be kept out of landfill. He also said the town's reputation as an international fishing destination will be protected.
Stores that persist in distributing the bags will face hefty fines.
"If the store continues to give them out it will be $1,000 a day," said Ryan.
"I don't think we'll have to go to those limits. The people and the stores are all on board."
The ban was inspired by countries like Australia and Ireland, which have imposed taxes and bans to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Leaf Rapids officials estimate they'll eliminate over 50,000 plastic bags from their waste stream in the first year of the ban.
The town initially implemented a three-cent levy on plastic bags but was then approached by Bring Your Own Bag with the suggestion that the community go plastic bag-free.
Instore Products Ltd., the developer behind Bring Your Own Bag, is responsible for helping divert more than 100 million plastic bags from landfills in North America over the last 16 years.
"This is a perfect example of how one idea can inspire a community, and how one community can inspire a country to conserve our environment," Matt Wittek, sales and marketing director for Bring Your Own Bag, said in a press release.
"This initiative has sparked a national debate that has been overwhelmingly positive for the reduction of plastic bags. We hope that Canadians from all communities -- big and small -- take up Leaf Rapids' challenge to make a positive change."
The company has donated 5,000 reusable shopping bags to town residents.
The southeastern B.C. town of Rossland is also considering a similar bylaw.
Just last month, city leaders in San Francisco approved a ban on plastic grocery bags. If the city's mayor signs the ban as expected, San Francisco would become the first U.S. city to adopt such a rule.