The province of Ontario aims to curtail plastic bag use by 50 percent during the next five years.
Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten announced the plan May 9. It includes an agreement among major retail organizations and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.
``We applaud the minister for recognizing that bans and taxes are not the way to go,'' said Cathy Cirko, CPIA vice president of environment and health, in a telephone interview. ``Voluntary partnership is the way to go. Consumer behavior is what you have to influence.''
``Ontarians use almost 80 plastic bags per second - that's close to 7 million bags every day,'' Broten said in a news release. ``Reducing the volume of plastic bags that end up in landfills is a top priority for us.''
Retail organizations have agreed to find ways to reduce the number of bags they use, as well as ways to reuse and recycle them. Some retailers already are offering reusable bags made of cloth or durable plastic and they will consider expanding such programs. Retailers will look at in-store recycling programs and the use of higher-recycled-content plastic bags. Retailers are expected to offer incentives for consumers to reduce bag usage.
Annual monitoring will be undertaken to ensure progress is being made.
Retail groups and the ministry will launch education programs aimed at consumers.
The ministry will fund studies to support the bag reduction plan. One study will explore logistics of municipal bag recycling. The Association of Municipal Recycling Coordinators will receive C$35,000 (US$31,500) to conduct the study to inform the ministry of the viability of bag recycling.
Mississauga, Ontario-based CPIA already has led bag recycling studies to identify best practices, but this study will provide a municipal point of view, Cirko said.
In addition to CPIA, other partners in the program include the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the Retail Council of Canada.