Every year, Canadians use up to 15 billion plastic bags that contribute to the 3 million tonnes of plastic waste we throw away annually.
With only nine (9) per cent of those bags recycled, the vast majority of plastics end up in landfills. At the same time, single-use plastics make up most of the plastic litter found in the freshwater environment.
It’s with those sobering statistics that the City of Wetaskiwin is reinstating enforcement of its plastic bag ban May 5, encouraging residents to choose washable, reusable bags instead.
Public health is always a top concern for the City, so out of an abundance of caution, enforcement was paused at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when far less was known about the virus and how it is transmitted.
While there’s little evidence reusable bags contribute to the spread of coronavirus, ample evidence demonstrates the environmental harm caused by plastic bag pollution. With that in mind, the City remains committed to its sustainability efforts and reducing the use of single-use plastic bags.
In addition, frequent washing or sanitization of reusable bags is recommended to further prevent the build-up of various bacteria or germs which could transfer to food or other products placed in the bags.
“We encourage everyone to use washable, reusable bags and follow AHS guidelines as we continue to support sustainable initiatives for the long-term wellness of our vibrant community,” stated Jamie Wilkinson, Wetaskiwin’s Director of Emergency Management.
In July 2019, Wetaskiwin became just the second Alberta community to ban single-use plastic bags, following the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which brought in similar legislation in 2010.
Under Wetaskiwin’s bylaw, grocery stores, retail stores, farmers’ markets, fast food outlets or restaurants, and similar businesses are prohibited from selling or distributing single-use plastic checkout bags thinner than 2 millimetres thick.
Exceptions to the ban include plastic bags used to contain fresh meat products, bulk food or hardware items, or freshly prepared bakery items. Professional laundering bags and any plastic bags used to contain dirty, greasy, or hazardous materials are also exempt.
Those unsure whether their business is affected can call
Businesses wanting more information, including a Plastic Bag Ban Business Kit, can click here.
For COVID-19 related information for the City of Wetaskiwin, visit covidwetaskiwin.ca