LEAF RAPIDS, Manitoba — This town, in conjunction with Bring Your Own Bag, a reusable enviro-bag program, has become the first Canadian municipality to ban single-use plastic bags.
Under Bylaw 462, retailers will no longer be permitted to give away or sell single-use plastic shopping bags. Only multi-use, reusable bags will be accepted. Anyone who contravenes the bylaw could face a fine of up to $1,000.
Leaf Rapids was inspired by countries like Australia and Ireland, where taxes and bans have dramatically reduced the use of plastic bags. As a result, in May 2006, the town implemented a 3-cent levy on every plastic shopping bag being given out by local merchants. Because of the levy, Leaf Rapids was approached by Bring Your Own Bag last September, which suggested the idea of becoming Canada's first plastic-bag-free community.
Leaf Rapids administrators responded to the proposal while the community rallied behind the initiative through educational programs. In fact, approximately half of the community has already started using recyclable bags in anticipation of the new regulation.
To kick off the program, Bring Your Own Bag is donating 5,000 of its multi-use, reusable, cloth shopping bags. Additional bags will be available for 99 cents at all retail locations in Leaf Rapids.
“The reaction has been mostly good,” according to Susan Horodechi, office manager for the Leaf Rapids Co-Op supermarket. “But there are some people who don't like the idea of not being able to use plastic bags.”