Green News

Montreal Plastic bag tax, just another excuse

Posted by TheGreen on 08/13 at 01:25 PM
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The Quebec government feels that we use too many plastic bags. Wow, you think? Quebec, and Montreal seem to continually tell us they want to help the environment and help make our planet greener. Like most politicians, they are afraid to upset anyone, and in doing so only come up with partial measures for improvement. At a recent town meeting my wife and I attended we were told that the City Montreal had put into place a mandate to have the average amount of recycled material for residences at 60%. That is 60% of all output from residential homes would need to be recycled by the year 2008. The chair of the meeting told us it was quite a goal for us to reach. A few truly concerned citizens asked the question, why 60%? Why not 90%, or 95%. 60% seems almost laughable in todays age.

Now, the government wants to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags. Those bags that people love to complain about in spring, blowing around the streets. Those bags the city complains about on recycling day, when the wind blows. Their idea of a solution is a 20 cent tax on each bag. If you go to the store to shop you will need to basically buy the bags for 20 cents a-piece. “Hey, I just spent $150 on groceries, and now I need to pay an additional $2 on bags to get my groceries home?” Most people I think will become overly complacant about this little tax, and the result will be little reduction.

Jacques Lalonde, founder of EcoContribution, an environmental advocacy group says “A ban would require lots of consultations and preparation. A tax has shown it can work from one day to the next.” Perhaps I am naive, but why so much consultation and preparation. People need to adjust and make a difference, and sometimes we need a radical change to make it happen. If I rememeber correctly, the introduction of taxes in the past has been quite expensive to set up. We need to follow the countries that have made the cut, those countries that banned plastic bags, some of them years ago. Heck, Manitoba has banned the plastic bag in grocery stores! Quebec, and Quebecers, wake up! Let’s get ahead of the game and show people how this is done. Let’s show the rest of the world that Canada can make a difference.

Where are the politicians with back bone? Where are the politicians that are not afraid to get a little bad press for doing something they believe in? Perhaps today’s politicians don’t believe in anythine? It makes me so angry that our current politicians are so worried about the polls that they never really bring in any measures of note anymore, or they simply flip flop until election day and then try to tell us that, “next term we will make a difference.”

If we care, then we need to stand up and say “No more plastic bags in Canada!” We outlawed incadenscent bulbs—which is a discussion entirely unto itself—so let’s outlaw the plastic bag. Let’s set the example, and not be the example, from now on. One day, maybe, just maybe, we can be proud to say that we have reduced our waste to a point comparible to some of those countries in Europe.

Taken from the Gazette article, here is how a few other places around the world are putting the curb on plastic bag use:

  • 2002: Ireland introduces its “plastax,” a 15-cent levy on plastic bags given by retailers.
  • 2002: Bangladesh bans polyethylene bags after drains and sewage lines clogged by bags are blamed for health hazards and flooding.
  • March: San Francisco bans petrol-based plastic bags in large supermarkets and pharmacy chains, a U.S. first.
  • April: Leaf Rapids, [Manitoba], becomes Canada’s first plastic shopping bag-free zone: retailers can no longer give away or sell plastic bags for single use.
  • By 2009: Australia plans to phase out plastic bags.

A lot of you reading this article, including my cousin in the townships, will say, “Hey Jim, we can’t rely on the government to do everything for us.” You are absolutely correct. We as individuals need to set the example too, perhaps first, and stop using these bags. There is no reason whatsoever, except shear laziness that we use these plastic bags. As for our family, we rely on reusable shopping bags, similar to the ones that Provigo now sells only much better (we have a couple of the provigo bags too). We were fortunate to have bought some excellent bags from Regal before they stopped selling them. Bags that stand open on their own making them easy to fill. Bags that are super strong so you can really pack them up with groceries. My wife is constantly being asked “where can I get bags like that,” to which she has no answer. If you are bag manufacturer, there is a market for quality shopping bags that are made to last. Even the provigo bags are not really made to last, meaning they too will start to get tossed into the land fills.

Can we ever get away from our throw-away society? Perhaps that is a topic for another day.

I invite you to comment on my thoughts here. Tell me how wrong I am, or how right I am. Tell me what ‘you’ are doing to help reduce the disposal of recycled bags.

About the author: TheGreen