British Columbia (B.C.) has come out with a policy consultation paper on plastics waste two weeks after the province’s top court threw out the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban because it was enacted without the province’s consent. Among the proposals being put forward in the policy consultation paper is a ban on single-use plastic bags.
Prince Edward Island is the first, and so far the only, province to implement a ban on plastic bags. Prince Edward Island recently filed General Regulations (P.E.I. Reg. EC2019-506) giving inspectors the powers needed to enforce the ban, which took effect July 1, 2019.
Newfoundland and Labrador has also amended its Environmental Protection Act to allow for the introduction of a plastic bag ban, but has not yet proceeded with regulations to put the ban in place.
B.C. is also considering making use of existing regulatory and policy tools to reduce plastics waste. B.C. already has the most comprehensive set of extended producer responsibility programs in Canada, covering products from batteries to large and small appliances.
The programs could be extended to include “packaging-like products” and “single-use items,” in the words of the policy consultation paper. Refundable deposits could be applied to all beverage containers. Recyclable plastics could be banned from disposal. B.C. might also develop recycled content performance standards for plastics in order to build demand.
As part of the consultation on plastics, B.C. is also floating the idea of modernizing the deposit-refund program for beverage containers to allow refunds to be paid electronically and through a variety of means, such as e-transfer, in-store credit or charitable donation. Consumers might have the option of dropping off a bag of mixed recyclables tagged with their account number. Their account would be credited after the bag was sorted.
B.C. is accepting comments on the policy consultation paper until September 18, 2019.