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Council considers banning single-use plastic bags

City administration will bring a report to the next executive Committee meeting about the possibility of banning single-use plastic bags.

The work of high school students to collect plastic bags in Moose Jaw has prompted city council to look at possibly banning such single-use plastics from the community altogether. 

A group from A.E. Peacock Collegiate gave a presentation to council during its April 8 executive committee meeting. The trio spoke about the school’s efforts to collect unwanted plastic bags as part of the national Plastic Grab Bag Challenge. They also put forward a strategy council could use to eliminate such plastics in Moose Jaw. 

As of April 12, the school had collected 44,500 single-use plastic bags. The bags will be sent to the Trex Company to be turned into composite decking and furniture.

After the presentation, council voted 6-1 on a recommendation to have city administration bring a report to the next executive committee meeting about possibly banning plastic bags in Moose Jaw. 

Coun. Brian Swanson was opposed.

Council discussion
With the presentation from Peacock Collegiate, plus similar interest from Vanier Collegiate and the municipality’s youth advisory committee, this is an indication that the next generation is willing to show leadership and vision, said Mayor Fraser Tolmie. 

Moose Jaw is “on the leading edge” when it comes to renewable energy, he continued. While SaskPower intends to build a new coal-powered plant here, Sycamore Energy Inc. — a solar panel company — has also decided to set up its headquarters in Moose Jaw. 

Peacock has done good work to collect those 35,000 plastic bags, said city manager Jim Puffalt. With the world moving to eliminate single-use plastics, the municipality will have to see what the effect would be in Saskatchewan. 

By working with Peacock and the youth advisory committee, Puffalt wondered how city council could convince businesses to stop using plastic bags. He noted an awareness campaign would be important moving forward.

“I’ve explored this quite extensively and how to bring forward (this issue) at the city level,” said Coun. Crystal Froese. “I been following different cities as they’ve been closing this option down. If it’s voluntarily, people will take the easy option. 

“If the option (for plastic) is not there, then I’ll remember to bring cloth bags or ask for paper.”

Coun. Dawn Luhning then introduced a recommendation to have administration bring forward a report looking at banning plastic bags in Moose Jaw. 

“There is no doubt this is the way the world is moving,” she said, expressing her frustration that so many packages come with excessive plastic.  

Luhning believes this is the right decision to make. She knows Moose Jaw’s leaders are willing to make the tough decisions. Not everyone will like the hard decisions council has to make, but she doesn’t think every resident is hung up on using only plastic bags. 

Creating new habits among residents will be important, said Tolmie. His two children enjoy talking and singing about recycling, which shows that even they are cognizant of this issue. 

“The crux of this is, either do it or don’t do it. There is no halfway with this,” he added.

China is no longer accepting the world’s recycling, while other markets for recycling and composting are shrinking, said Luhning. She believes council needs to take the necessary steps to protect the environment.

The next executive committee meeting is April 22. 

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