Plastic bags banned. Is the Toronto plastic bag ban much ado about nothing? Canada has proposed to ban single-use plastics, such as grocery bags, six-ring packs, straws, stir sticks, cutlery, and plastic dinnerware across the nation by the end of 2021. The goal of the nation is to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. But where can retailers find a product that is more cost-effective and recyclable? And does Canada really want to destroy multitudes of trees in favour of paper bags instead?
The reasoning behind the ban originates from environmentalists who have complained that plastic pollution is threatening the natural environment, filling up oceans and landfills, and marine life who commonly mistake plastic for food, resulting in the deaths of thousands of marine animals and millions of sea birds. This argument, however, has been debunked. A study on plastic bags by the Australian government in 2002 cited these findings. However, in their report, they misquoted a 1987 Canadian study where the deaths of animals were attributed to fishing lines and nets rather than plastic bags.
Toronto’s neighbours to the south are wiser. They have instilled a program that not only protects the environment by keeping plastic out of landfills, but also increases public awareness by providing bins in grocery stores for customers to recycle their used plastic bags. These bags are then sold to the manufacturer who has them recycled into resin to make a new batch of plastic bags. What could be simpler?
We are all aware that using plastic for grocery shopping is far more convenient, particularly when we have an unexpected leak from one of the products we purchased. We also know that we can reuse the grocery bags for many uses, such as bin liners or grocery shopping. If we give the customer five cents for bringing every one of the used bags back rather than charging them to use it in the first place, we would be assured that almost all of the bags would be recycled.
Rather than focusing on plastic bags banned, why don’t we provide a grant to researchers to find a cost-effective way of disintegrating the plastic before it gets into the landfill? Those of us who are older and remember grocery shopping when our only alternative was the use of paper bags remember clearly wet and soggy bags, easily torn bags, and bags that were difficult to lift. We dread the thought of returning to paper bag usage for groceries.
With plastic bags, we have convenience, cost-effectiveness, and of course, intact trees. In our technologically advanced society, we are sure that there are solutions for us to have it all—convenience and a healthy environment.