Stop The Plastic Ban
Not content with constantly hiking taxes and failing to build infrastructure that's structurally sound, Edmonton City Council is now planning a ban on single-use items like plastic bags and takeaway containers.
You may have heard about similar efforts in other cities, or the recent calls by the federal government to define plastic as toxic, but this being Edmonton, they've found a way to make it even worse here.
Council has crafted a bylaw that - amongst other things - bans plastic bags, which, for the purposes of the bylaw, are considered to be shopping bags made out of "any type of film plastic, which may include compostable, biodegradable, oxo-degradable, recycled, bio-plastic, or conventional plastics."
That's right, biodegradable plastic bags are apparently now a bad thing, and Council is also planning to define recycled plastic bags as "single-use" items!
The new bylaw will also force restaurant and food service establishments to allow customers to bring their own cups, requires paper bags be made from 40% recyclable material, and restricts cutlery, straws, and other food service items from being offered unless the customer asks for them.
Council seems to literally want to control every minute aspect of our lives, under the justification of saving the environment, and yet there's literally no evidence that any of these policies will actually help the environment.
Let us explain...
First, plastic bags, cutlery, and such make up just a tiny fraction of the plastic waste around the world.
Using a reusable plastic bag instead of a single-use plastic bag isn't going to achieve anything because 93% of plastic in the oceans comes from just ten rivers in Asia and Africa.
As always, improving the world economy, improving the standard of living in the developing world, and ensuring the world is wealthy enough for people to have time to think about the environment, rather than survival, is the best way to improve the environment.
Second, single-use plastic bags aren't actually bad for the environment, nor do they cause climate change - in fact, they help.
All the academic studies that say plastic bags are bad for the environment are based on bad assumptions.
You see, reusable bags made from paper, plastic, cotton, etc, are heavier and require much more energy and resources to make in the first place, meaning they require dozens or even hundreds of uses per bag in order to be better for the environment than a plastic bag.
The problem is that the studies assume that plastic bags only get used once per bag, while assuming that people use reusable bags many more times than they actually do.
The reality is, single-use plastic bags almost always aren't - most consumers actually reuse their plastic shopping bags, sometimes multiple times.
Meanwhile, almost no one uses reusable bags enough times to come out better off.
Forget to bring a bag with you once, and end up buying yet another reusable one - that's the equivalent of hundreds of plastic bags.
Once again, the theoretical political claim meets the real world.
Finally, there's practicality.
Some reusable bags work alright and don't break the moment you leave the store (usually the ones that are worst for the environment).
Others are less reusable than they might seem, or get thrown out almost immediately because they get dirty, or were used to carry raw meat that leaked and could be unsafe.
Good luck carrying as much home in paper bags without handles as you can in plastic bags too - will that encourage more people to drive to the store instead of walk?
And let's not even start on paper straws that melt in your drink before you even finish it.
So, how did we get to the point where Council is considering such a silly rule...?
We've talked before about how Council uses misleading and/or leading "public consultation" sessions to get the results they need to justify the policies they already want.
That's the case here too, with Council citing a result that shows 81% of respondents told the City they wanted to use fewer disposable cups.
But, we don't need Council to regulate the entire economy in order for people to reduce their disposable cup usage - people can do that themselves right now.
Common Sense Edmonton supports freedom and choice for consumers, and Council should let Edmontonians who want to keep using plastic bags (including biodegradable bags) do so, while helping the environment.
Fortunately, we still have time to stop this.
Council will be holding a public hearing on this bylaw next month.
If you don’t want the City dictating your life to you, it's time to make your voice heard!
Please sign our petition to Council calling on them to not implement a single-use item ban.
Then share the petition with your friends, family, co-workers, and every Edmontonian, so they can make their voices heard too.
We'll also let you know the details of the public hearing, so you can show up in person and tell Council what you think.
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San Diego has option to buy a sturdy plastic bag at grocery store for a small fee. When you bring them to reuse, they give you a small refund towards your bill. Great idea. You can use these many many times.