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On P.E.I., plastic bag ban embraced by many

Lorren Assayag and Adam Romphf of York hold up the last plastic bag they’ll ever receive from a P.E.I. grocery store on Sunday. A ban is now in effect preventing retailers from using plastic bags. KATHERINE HUNT/THE GUARDIAN
Lorren Assayag and Adam Romphf of York hold up the last plastic bag they’ll ever receive from a P.E.I. grocery store on Sunday. A ban is now in effect preventing retailers from using plastic bags. KATHERINE HUNT/THE GUARDIAN - Katherine Hunt

Keeping reusable bags around has become second-nature for Madelaine Venart.

For about three years, the Stratford resident has loaded her groceries into reusable bags she keeps in her vehicle.

With P.E.I.’s plastic bag ban now in effect as of Canada Day, Venart said she expects more people will do the same.

“We have to implement these things and put them in place so people are forced to bring reusable bags and I think that’s important,” she said. “If given a choice people will do whatever’s easiest and taking care of the environment should be priority.”

Madelaine Venart of Stratford holds up one of the reusable bags she’s been using for grocery shopping for the past three years. Venart said it has helped her prepare for the plastic bag ban that went into effect on Canada Day.
Madelaine Venart of Stratford holds up one of the reusable bags she’s been using for grocery shopping for the past three years. Venart said it has helped her prepare for the plastic bag ban that went into effect on Canada Day.

Venart was shopping at Foodland in Charlottetown on Sunday when The Guardian was asking Islanders their thoughts on the plastic bag ban.

The ban is part of the Plastic Bag Reduction Act and means retailers in P.E.I. are not allowed to pack customers’ items in plastic bags upon purchase.

People will need to use reusable bags as an alternative, or purchase paper bags from retailers.

Lorren Assayag said she thinks the ban is great but that it will take some time to get into the habit of having a reusable bag on hand when going shopping.

“It will take a lot of getting used to,” said the York resident. “I think I’ll start to remember and I’ll leave (reusable bags) in the car.”

Plastic bags from the grocery store were what Paul Vreeland of Harington used for the small garbage cans in his home.

Vreeland said he will have to start buying small eco-friendly bags for those cans, but he is okay with that.

“I’m going to have to buy biodegradable plastic bags for my garbage cans,” he said. “That’s the only downside and it’s an adjustment but it’s good for the environment. I think everyone agrees with that.”

Helping the environment was a common theme amongst those The Guardian spoke to.

“The Island has got a small ecosystem and we don’t want to crowd it up with plastic,” said Assayag. “The amount of plastic in the ocean is a crisis.”

Vreeland said prior to the ban, he noticed some people taking groceries in their own hands, literally.

“I admired a couple I noticed in the store last week,” he said. “They bought their items and chose no bag at all, they just carried everything out in their arms. That was impressive.”

NEED TO KNOW

  • The Plastic Bag Reduction Act came into effect on Canada Day and will remove about 30-million single-use plastic bags from the waste stream each year.
  • P.E.I. is the first province in Canada to enact a ban on plastic bags.
  • The Act encourages the use of reusable shopping bags and prohibits businesses from providing plastic checkout bags to customers. Instead, consumers are encouraged to use higher quality reusable bags which generally hold more, are more durable and produce less waste, or paper bags.
  •  Businesses will charge a minimum fee of 15 cents for paper bags and $1 for reusable bags to limit excessive amounts of checkout bags. The mandatory minimum fees will also help Island businesses with the cost of transitioning from plastic and paper to reusable bags.
  • The Act also prohibits businesses from offering free paper or free reusable checkout bags. Exceptions include small bags, bags to protect prepared food, loose items, food safety, medications, dry cleaning and some bulk items.
  • More information for businesses and consumers is available at Princeedwardisland.ca/checkoutbags

Katherine.hunt@theguardian.pe.ca

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