News / Edmonton

Business owner hopes to reopen plastic bag debate in Edmonton

The founder of Earth's General Store wants the city to consider banning single use bags

A man walks along the street with plastic bags in Los Angeles, Thursday, May 24, 2012. Now that the city of Los Angeles has taken the first step toward banning plastic bags, it appears the little utilitarian bags themselves may be headed for the trash heap of history. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jae C. Hong / AP

A man walks along the street with plastic bags in Los Angeles, Thursday, May 24, 2012. Now that the city of Los Angeles has taken the first step toward banning plastic bags, it appears the little utilitarian bags themselves may be headed for the trash heap of history. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The owner of Earth's General Store is hoping third time's the charm when it comes to banning plastic bags in Edmonton.

Michael Kalmanovitch has gone in-person to city hall to raise his concerns a couple of times in the last few years, and has now launched an online petition, calling on the city to ban single-use bags, which has garned over 800 signatures.

“I think we’re smarter than this,” said Kalmanovitch. “I’d like the city to ban the use of single use plastic bags or at the very least say all single-use plastic bags have to have a surcharge.”

It's an idea that could be gaining some traction.

Fort McMurray was the first Alberta city to put a ban in place, prohibiting them in back in 2010.

Meanwhile Seattle, Los Angeles and Mexico City, as well as the state of Hawaii and whole countries including Italy, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Kenya have done the same.

In 2015, England put a small charge on plastic bags, approximately $1.50 CAD. Within the year, the country’s plastic bag use dropped 85%.

Kalmanovitch knows this isn’t just an Edmonton problem, noting that “the world does not need any more plastic bags.”

According to the World Economic Forum, plastics production across the globe have surged since the 1960s. Their numbers show there were 15 million tonnes of plastics produced worldwide in 1964, which increased to 311 million tonnes in 2014. This number is expected to double again by 2040.

And although Edmonton has world-class recycling facilities, Kalmanovitch said that doesn’t account for the fact that the materials don’t biodegrade. Instead plastics breakdown over time into microplastics that remain in the environment.

Recycling also costs the city money, he said.

Edmonton's current approach is to encourage local businesses to apply a surcharge to customers who opt for use plastic bags. Some businesses have taken up the challenge including Superstore.

Kalmanovitch has been doing all that he can, as the owner of Earth’s General Store. He encourages customers to bring their own bags, reuse packaging and pay for plastic ones.

“What I’m suggesting is that people take a third thing when they go shopping, car keys, wallet and some reusable bags.Every time you do that, it’s a win for the environment.”

With his petition closing in on 1,000 signatures, Kalmanovitch said he plans to make his third, and what he hopes is his final, approach to city council.

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