The Retail Council of Canada is asking Atlantic Canada to ban plastic bags province-wide rather than having a number of local bans. Retailers say that it will be easier to comply because it co-ordinates shipments and orders overall between different stores.

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Author: Hadeel Ibrahim, CBC News

When it comes to banning plastic bags, the director of the Retail Council of Canada in Atlantic Canada says getting as many municipalities on board as possible makes life easier for large-scale retailers.

Jim Cormier said he’s urging municipalities, such as Moncton, that are considering a single-use plastic bag ban to partner with other municipalities or even the province for a more widespread prohibition.

He said that will make it easier for larger retailers to comply because it will be easier to co-ordinate shipments and orders between different chains.

“Most retailers around this time of year are buying their shipment for the entire year. So you could end up with all of this backlog if all of a sudden if one of the communities said you can no longer use these,” he said.

“What if one of the communities said well you can use single-use plastic bags but only at a certain level of thickness … And then the neighbouring community says well you can use them but our thickness level is going to be different.”

A Moncton ban

Moncton city council indicated its intention to work toward a ban on single-use plastic bags in May 2018 after a community group presented a petition at a public meeting.

In the preliminary results of a community survey, most respondents said they are interested in an outright ban in the greater Moncton area.

Moncton council has said a ban on the plastic shopping bags will likely include Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview.

Cormier said large and medium retailers aren’t opposed to a ban, but do want a more “harmonized” approach like that taken in Prince Edward Island, where the ban was enacted provincially.

“If you can harmonize to the greatest extent possible with what your neighbours are doing it makes businesses move a lot more smoothly,” said Cormier.

“And it keeps the general public from getting needlessly upset over something that could be fairly seamless.”

A Halifax example

Cormier said the province of Nova Scotia hasn’t taken the lead on a plastic bag ban, but instead several municipalities have pledged that if a ban is implemented, it will be uniform.

“It looks like this month [Halifax] will be voting on a plastic bag ban bylaw and it looks like …they have the support to pass that,” he said.

“We have a verbal commitment from the head of the Federation of Nova Scotia municipalities to say that if Halifax passes a bylaw to ban the bags, the 10 biggest municipal units in Nova Scotia will join and they will do the same bylaw.”

Cormier said he will be meeting with municipality associations “as we see fit.”

“The only one in New Brunswick so far that we’ve been hearing about making public comments on this has been in the greater Moncton area, so we thought well, let’s focus there first and then we’ll see what happened,” he said.

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