Nova Scotia is set to become the second province in Canada to ban single-use plastic bags, a move the Canadian Plastics Industry Association says will add almost 7 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year to the atmosphere.
The province’s Bill 152, the Plastic Bags Reduction Act, passed second reading in the Legislature on October 1, 2019 with strong support. The Bill will prohibit all businesses in Nova Scotia from providing a plastic bag to customers at the checkout counter, but with several exceptions for things like dry cleaning, food, and loose items. If Bill 152 passes, retailers will have one year to prepare for the change.
In a lengthy release, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association labels the Bill a misguided response to public pressure. Paper bags, often put forward as an environmentally superior alternative to plastic bags, are much more carbon intensive, the association argues. It says an aggressive bag fee program could have helped Nov Scotia reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drastically cut the use of plastic bags.
Defenders of the ban point to plastics clogging landfills and the impact of plastic litter on wildlife.
“We welcome this announcement. Banning plastic bags is a step in reducing our use of plastic and preventing the contamination of our water, soil and food. By far the best replacement is a reusable bag, used many times over,” said Mark Butler, policy director at the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, in a release. The Ecology Action Centre has been calling for a plastic bag ban since January 2018.
Prince Edward Island became the first province to ban plastic checkout bags on July 1, 2019, but it does not intend to enforce the ban until 2020. Unlike Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island requires retailers to charge a fee for all reusable or paper checkout bags.