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Bag ban plan rejected

The latest push to ban plastic shopping bags has deflated – at least for now.

Mayors and councillors at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association’s (LMLGA) annual meeting in Whistler narrowly voted down a call to prohibit the bags last week.

Many civic politicians wanted to ban the bags as at least a symbolic step in the war on waste.

But Metro Vancouver waste management committee chair Marvin Hunt noted there’s also widespread recognition that film plastic bags make up a miniscule part of what goes to landfills.

“It’s a fraction of one per cent of the waste stream,” he said.

Hunt said there’s a real fear banning plastic shopping bags could actually increase plastic dumping if people who now reuse them for kitchen trash bags or dog waste end up buying other bags.

Metro has pledged to reconsider the issue later this year after further study, so the idea of either a ban or a tax on plastic bags isn’t dead yet.

But Vancouver Coun. Kim Capri said she wants any action to be part of a coordinated regional or even provincial strategy.

“If Vancouver does a ban and Burnaby doesn’t and Surrey doesn’t, then we’re not getting to the heart of the problem,” she said.

Capri – who voted against the resolution from Maple Ridge – said she’d like to achieve a serious reduction in plastic use, but doubts banning bags will work.

“I don’t think an ultimate ban is going to work. We’re not at a place yet where people do not have to package their garbage, where people don’t use something to pick up their dog poo.”

Capri also questions whether other waste reduction priorities should come first.

“Why plastic bags as opposed to styrofoam, takeout food containers or disposable diapers? Milk jugs still end up in the landfill.”

Langley Township Coun. Bob Long, the LMLGA’s outgoing president, said there’s been huge progress among major retailers in fostering the use of reusable bags through customer incentives.

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