Nanaimo City Council is moving forward with a bylaw that would eliminate the use of plastic checkout bags in the region.
On October 19, the city council passed three readings of Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw 2020 No. 7283. The bylaw will now be forwarded to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for approval, which the City expects to receive within three to six months.
If the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy approves the bylaw, then Council says it will be adopted in Nanaimo as of July 1, 2021. The City says this timeline will allow for retailers to adjust their delivery and work through any existing stock of bags.
The Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw encourages the use of reusable bags by eliminating plastic bags and setting fees for paper bags, according to Nanaimo City Council.
The bylaw states that paper bags need to contain at least 40 per cent post-consumer recycled content and be labelled as recyclable while reusable bags should be washable and capable of at least 100 uses.
“Reducing plastic use is not just a symbolic gesture. It is a real step forward in saving the planet and Nanaimo must and is playing its part,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog.
According to Nanaimo City Council, bags labelled ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ are prohibited under the new bylaw due to these types forming harmful micro-plastics as they degrade.
Nanaimo adds that some exemptions will be made under the new bylaw including small paper bags, bags for bulk foods and produce, wrap for flowers, and multi-packs of plastic bags.
“Many Nanaimo residents and businesses are already leading the way in reducing single-use checkout bags. We look forward to working with our citizens to achieve our Zero Waste goals,” said Kirsten Gellein, Zero Waste Coordinator with the City of Nanaimo.
Prior to implementation, the City says it will launch an education campaign to assist residents and businesses with the transition.
Nanaimo City Council also highlights that the Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw would complement the federal and provincial governments movements to reduce harmful single-use plastics and support the waste reduction goals set out in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Solid Waste Management Plan.