British Columbia nixes attempt by City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver to ban plastic shopping bags; progress of voluntary initiative to reduce bag distribution in Canada by 50% by 2013 will be assessed in a January report

LOS ANGELES , December 29, 2011 () – An attempt by the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver to ban plastic shopping bags was stopped when the British Columbia government decided against the move, leaving supporters to rely on a voluntary effort throughout Canada, reported The Vancouver Sun on Dec. 28.

There is also a pledge to boost the recycling of plastic bags to 100% by 2015, said Vancouver Councilor Tim Stevenson, who had promoted the ban across the region. Previously, he had indicated that 1.3 million to 1.4 million plastic bags are used in the province yearly.

Unlike in the U.S., where Seattle, Washington, last week voted to prohibit single-used plastic carryout bags, Metro Vancouver municipalities do not have the jurisdiction to impose an outright ban, The Vancouver Sun reported.

Banning plastic shopping bags does not have support in British Columbia because customers “prefer them,” said Allen Langdon, VP of sustainability for the Retail Council of Canada.

British Columbia will continue to participate in a voluntary national initiative to reduce the number of such bags distributed by 50% by 2013. It is not known how that effort is going, but a report due out in January will reveal the progress.

No retailers are known to have eliminated plastic shopping bags, although more are asking customers if they want one, said Langdon, adding that he sees the trend moving to more people using reusable bags, reported The Vancouver Sun.

The pledge to reduce use of the plastic carryout bags was made in 2008 by industry groups in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba, as well as the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, and the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Plastic shopping bags are accepted for recycling at several major retailers, including London Drugs, Safeway Inc., Save-On-Foods and Walmart, said Langdon, The Vancouver Sun reported.

The primary source of this article is The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, British Columbia, on Dec. 28, 2011.

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