Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
A Whitehorse-area woman asked city council Monday evening to ban single-use plastic bags, and it’s looking like she has some support on council.
Barbara Drury of the Circle D Ranch west of Whitehorse told council that banning single-use bags is a small step forward the city can take to help the environment.
“I am asking if the City of Whitehorse would ban the use of single-use plastic bags, the kind that are given out at the stores for people to take their groceries home,” she said.
She’s made a pledge to herself to stop using the plastic bags and instead rely on re-useable cloth bags, Drury added.
It can be difficult because she forgets her bags sometimes, but it’s possible to adapt once you make the decision, she told council.
Drury said banning the plastic bags is something that could happen, and it would not take a lot of money.
“I just think it is a really important message to get out there,” she said.
Many countries around the world have banned single-use plastics, as plastic is becoming more and more of an environmental nightmare, particularly for oceans across the globe.
Community Services Minister John Streicker said earlier this spring the Yukon government wants to see a reduction in the use of plastic bags but is looking at attaching a fee to them before contemplating an outright ban.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week he is looking at an outright ban of single-use plastics beginning in 2021, including bags, straws and cutlery.
Following Drury’s presentation Monday, Coun. Laura Cabbot asked for support to have the issue of plastic waste brought forward to a meeting of council members and senior administration. She received unanimous support from her fellow council members.
At the recent annual meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Quebec City, Cabbot noted, the workshop on plastic and waste was the most well-attended – standing-room-only.
“So this is an important issue to many municipalities and communities across the country,” she said.
“I would like to see if there is interest and common ground on council to take the lead in reducing plastic within our city.”
Cabbot acknowledged there is a place for plastics in computers, bike helmets and such.
But she also proceeded to cite many of the disturbing statistics that have surfaced in recent years regarding the impact plastic waste is having on the environment, including that 40 per cent of plastics are discarded after a single use.
Worldwide, 20 per cent of plastics are being recycled, but in Canada, it’s only nine to 10 per cent. The rest goes into landfills or the environment, where they’ll spend the next several hundred years and longer decomposing, she noted.
Cabbot said 18 billion pounds of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year.
By 2050, she said, it’s estimated there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.
“I really do hope there is something we can do here at the city working with businesses and other levels of government, but I do not think we have to wait for them as well,” she said.
Coun. Steve Roddick pointed out next month is the Plastic Free July Challenge.
“I did it last year, and it was definitely a challenge, and I would encourage the mayor and councillors to take on this challenge with me,” he said.
Individual measures won’t be enough to tackle the issue around plastic waste, but they are important, Roddick said.
The challenge will have to include producer responsibility, he suggested.
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