On Tuesday, staff will present to Kamloops council a draft bylaw as plans to ban single-use plastic bags continue.
The draft bylaw will regulate carry-out bags and propose further consultations in the community.
Modelled after regulations by the City of Victoria, the bylaw proposes to prohibit all business-licence holders from selling (or providing customers with ) plastic carry-out bags (plastic bags with handles). It would also prohibit businesses from providing reusable or paper carry-out bags free of charge, requiring a 15 cent fee for paper and $1 fee for reusable bags during a one-year transitional period, increased to 25 cents and $2, respectively, going forward.
Violators could be fined $100.
Some exemptions would apply to the ban, including for wrapping packaged fruit, vegetables and meat.
Council directed staff to draft the bylaw earlier this year and the city has since consulted with the business community. City sustainability services supervisor Glen Cheetham said the city found general support in speaking with businesses. They favoured the consistent approach, ability to utilize alternative options (paper and reusable) and options to provide a take-a-bag, leave-a-bag service, where customers could drop off reusable bags in a bin in a store.
“Generally, we heard support,” Cheetham said.
Concerns, meanwhile, continue to swirl around a phase-in period. The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce has urged the city to work with businesses and transition a ban of plastic carry-out bags.
Cheetham said businesses requested three to six months from the time at which a bylaw would be adopted for any regulations to take place. Businesses want time to address current inventory, secure new supplies and reprogram point-of-sale systems. Some also face challenges when it comes to meeting brand standards. Cheetham said a phase-in period, which has yet to be determined, would be included in the final bylaw.
The city hopes to come back to council in November, following further engagement, to make bylaw amendments. The bylaw is slated to come into effect in the spring of 2020.
The fundamental goal of the bylaw is to reduce waste and the city looked into the impacts of such a bylaw on the waste stream. According to a waste audit conducted by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, an estimated 290 tonnes of plastic carry-out bags went to the Mission Flats landfill in 2018, about 0.7 per cent of the total residential waste stream. Of those disposed, more than half (57 per cent) were reused as garbage bags. More than 18-million single-use plastic bags are estimated to be distributed to Kamloops residents each year. Plastic bags are not allowed in curbside recycling as per Recycle BC rules.
Draft bylaw exemptions:
a) package loose bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains or candy; b) package loose small hardware items such as nails and bolts; c) contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, poultry or fish, whether pre-packaged or not; d) wrap flowers or potted plants; e) protect prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged; f) contain prescription drugs received from a pharmacy; g) transport live fish; h) protect linens, bedding, or other similar large items that cannot easily fit in a Reusable Bag; i) protect newspapers or other printed material intended to be left at the customer’s residence or place of business; or j) protect clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning.
The city received 43 responses to a survey geared at business licence holders, which found that:
• 50 per cent of respondents indicated plastic carry-out bag ban would have a positive impact on their business;
• 41 per cent of respondents indicated a ban would have a negative impact on their business, with comments noting customer inconvenience, increased costs, constraints of corporate brand/supply chain and potential for increased theft with more people carrying reusable bags while shopping;
• most survey respondents (74 per cent) provide plastic carry-out bags to customers free of charge, while five per cent charge a fee for plastic bags.
• Fifty-four per cent of survey respondents said they would need up to three months to phase in the ban, 23 per cent said three to six months and 23 per cent said more than six months.
More work to do:
While the city follows suit with other municipalities in adopting Victoria’s Checkout Bag Bylaw, the bylaw has faced legal hurdles from the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, which argues the city has no power to enact environmental regulations that require provincial approval. The bylaw was upheld. But the association has filed an appeal, expected to be heard this spring.