Sooke council celebrated the passage of the new checkout bag regulation bylaw Monday by posing for selfies with a life-sized dummy made entirely of plastic waste.
Sooke resident Anne Clement brought the effigy to the council chambers in support of the bylaw that will regulate the use of single-use plastic bags.
“This is Polly Ethyl Styrene. She lives in the Sooke of the future that I fear will exist if we don’t change (the way we handle plastics),” Clement said.
“She’s here today to celebrate that you’re bringing forward this bylaw, and she’ll be here for every one of the next steps we need to take.”
The bylaw is slated to come into effect on Jan.1 , a delay in implementation designed to allow for the education of retailers on the new regulation and to allow them to use up the stocks of plastic that they already have in place.
The passage of the bylaw received little resistance from Sooke residents since being first discussed in July 2018 with only a few of the letters sent to council voicing concerns about the bylaw.
The regulation is similar to bylaws already adopted in Victoria, Esquimalt, Ucluelet and Tofino.
At the federal government level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to ban single-use plastics nationally by 2021 and added other items will also be included in the ban, including water bottles, straws and other single-use plastics.
Beyond those local examples, Sooke’s bylaw has joined a wave of similar regulations and initiatives right across the country and, in fact, the world.
The European Union has already voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers and is moving toward a total ban on other single use-plastics.
In Australia, in a move led by the country’s two largest supermarkets, plastic bans have taken hold and reduced plastic bag use by 80 per cent in three months.
The United States, a bit late to the movement, has seen the ban of single-use bags in New York State and California, but the movement is spreading.
According to Greenpeace, single-use plastic bags have become a scourge on the planet. They say that Canadians generate about 3.25 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. That’s about 140,000 garbage trucks worth of waste.
The Federal Government has estimated that, if nothing changes, the amount of plastic in the ocean could outweigh the amount of fish by 2050.
But perhaps the most innovative approach to curbing the use of plastic bags was seen recently in Vancouver, where the bags are still allowed. The owner of East West Market had his bags imprinted with embarrassing messages that included “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” in the hopes that his customers would be shamed away from using the bags.
Unfortunately, as well-meaning as the initiative might have been, it seemed to backfire as customers started collecting the bags.
Vancouver has already banned plastic straws and is considering a plastic bag ban for 2021.