Victoria’s ban on single-use plastic bags officially came into effect July 1 and although businesses have until Jan. 1 to deplete their stock, the change is already noticeable.

“We looked in the bin today.Wwe just took a look inside and we didn’t see any consumer bags at all which is quite surprising compared to when we first started the program we were seeing primarily plastic bags from consumers,” said Acting General Manager for Ellice Recycling Gary Leibel.

The move to ban plastic bags was a way to reduce the millions that end up annually in the landfill. It has sparked a conversation about single-use plastics across the province.

All B.C. mayors and councillors,  in Whistler for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference, unanimously supported the single-use plastics resolution presented by Victoria.

It calls on the province to work with the local government in order to regulate and limit disposable plastic packaging.

The resolution calls the “unrestricted use of disposable plastic packaging inconsistent with values of British Columbia’s.”

Not surprisingly, the plastic industry disagrees.

“They forgot why these products and packaging were brought in. It is definitely to protect public health. It’s hygiene and food preservation. If you remove these packages from the market we put a risk to public health,” said Joe Hruska, vice president of sustainability with Canadian Plastic Industry Association.

It’s certainly something that would require a massive change not just at the retail level but all the way up the supply chain.

Zero Waste Emporium is a grocery store in Victoria that is already ahead of the curve.

“We send the containers up on Wednesdays and they come back on Thursdays with whole milk and people just have to bring their own bottle and fill it up,” said Zero Waste Emporium owner Paula McPhee.

They’re the only store on Vancouver Island that sells everything from milk, soap, chips, produce even vinegar with zero disposable packaging.

The store has only been open for four weeks and McPhee says it’s gaining traction.

People that have been walking down and see our store they will come in and be surprised that you can actually shop completely package free. We’ve had a lot more customers saying ‘oh my friend told me about this place I really wanted to come check it out,'” said McPhee.

Luisa Alvarez