News / Halifax

'One less thing they can throw out their window:' Halifax looks into banning plastic bags

Halifax's environmental committee asked for a staff report looking at options to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic shopping bags in the municipality.

A shopper leaves a grocery store carrying his groceries in plastic bags Tuesday, August 30, 2016 in Brossard, Que., where a plastic bag ban went into effect Sep. 1.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/PAUL CHIASSON

A shopper leaves a grocery store carrying his groceries in plastic bags Tuesday, August 30, 2016 in Brossard, Que., where a plastic bag ban went into effect Sep. 1.

Though some councillors feel a ban on plastic bags in Halifax Regional Municipality “is like taking a sledgehammer to a flea,” council’s environmental committee voted Thursday to have staff take a look at such a policy.

Coun. Tony Mancini made the motion at Thursday’s meeting of the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee, asking for a staff report looking at “various options to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic shopping bags in the municipality,” including a complete ban, a partial ban, or a fee per bag.

Mancini told the committee he’s concerned about the number of plastic bags ending up in the municipality’s waterways and impacting wildlife, and he just wants staff to look at what can be done.

Coun. Bill Karsten, along with Coun. Steve Streatch, argued the problem isn’t the bags, it’s the people littering.

“I think it’s too encompassing,” Karsten said of a ban.

“I think it’s like taking a sledgehammer to a flea.”

Mancini said maybe it is, but he believes it would work.

“If you take a sledgehammer to that flea, it’s not coming back, I guarantee you,” he said.

Mancini said his major concern with a ban is that he doesn’t want small business to be affected.

An advocate for businesses who was present at Thursday’s meeting said afterward that a ban would have an impact on business in general, and his organization doesn’t think it’s necessary.

“We would rather see education and promotion of what’s already in place,” said Jim Cormier, Atlantic Canada director of the Retail Council of Canada, referring to HRM’s recycling policy that allows plastic bags in blue bags.

But that goes back to a point that a few councillor’s made, including Coun. Lisa Blackburn.

"Jerks are gonna be jerks," she said. "Let’s just give them one less thing they can throw out their window."

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