Edmonton Canada Takes Bold Step To Cut Down On Plastic Bag Usage By 50% Within 5 Years

The city of Edmonton is taking the lead to curtail the use of plastic bags by 50% within the next 5 years.

In 2008, it was estimated that Albertan’s used about 5 plastic bags each, which cumulatively added up to a total of 900 million bags.

The Minister of Environment, Robert Renner, said in a recent statement that “Many Albertans are concerned with the number of plastic bags littering streets and entering landfills”.

In response to growing concerns, on Wednesday, June 2, 2010, the government of Alberta, along with four of the province’s largest retailers, announced their voluntary plan, which is designed to reduce the overall use of plastic bags by the year 2013.

The Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, the Retail Council of Canada, and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors represent the four main organizations involved in the initiative, which account for over 90% of all retail sales in the entire province.

“Retailers are committed to significantly reducing the number of plastic bags distributed in Alberta. Educating consumers and providing alternatives to plastic bags are key to meeting the aggressive targets we have set as an industry.” said Peter Pilarski, Director of Government Relations and Membership Services for Alberta with the Retail Council of Canada.

Along with educating the public on the detrimental effects of plastic bags on the environment, as well as plans to push the use of reusable shopping bags, many stores will start charging a five-cent fee for the use of plastic bags.

At this time there are no plans to institute a ban on the use of plastic bags, as it is felt that changing attitudes will have better long-term effects.

There are retailers who have already started to use an array of different strategies to reduce the use of plastic bags, including offering fabric bags to consumers at the checkout counter.

Many consumers applaud the action by the government and see it as a positive step, while others don’t think it goes far enough.

Harvey Anderson with Wild Earth Foods said “The cashiers always ask, ‘do you want a bag, do you need a bag?’ And a lot of people do end up changing their minds when they have one or two items. It’s just trying to make people more aware.”

So next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t be surprised to find yourself with a choice. Some consumers are already preparing in advance by stocking up on reusable shopping bags.

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