Comment: Banning plastic check-out bags is a bad idea

A commentary by the manager (for 28 years) of the Salt Spring Island Recycling Depot.

Lately we hear various cities, counties and nations wanting to ban single-use plastics. There are different definitions, but generally they are picking on the plastic checkout bag. Some want to add plastic utensils, straws and so on to the banished list.

Last time I went to the ­grocery store, I looked at my load as I was at the till laying out the goods I was purchasing. My apples were in a plastic bag, as were my bagels, potatoes, tomatoes.

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Basically everything I had bought was in plastic bags, ­plastic clamshells, or rigid ­plastic such as my laundry detergent and mustard. Then there were tins of stuff and the odd glass jar.

In my mind all of this is single-use packaging. Sure, you can avoid some by bringing your own container, but it really isn’t changing the fact that there is all this packaging we have come to expect and it is all “single use.”

What do you do with your empty tuna tins? Make wind-chimes? You recycle them. When I eat the last bagel or slice of bread, the bag goes in my ­recycling.

So why on earth do they want to skimp on my checkout bag? I actually do reuse some of them as freezer bags, and some to pick up doggie doo.

Recycling depots in B.C. accept plastic bags of all sorts — even the new laminated weird stuff. It is recycled by Merlin Plastics right here in B.C.

Why demonize something that is 100 per cent recyclable?

Too much plastic in the world? I agree.

The answer? Legislate to ­prohibit the production and use of new plastic unless it contains 85 per cent post-consumer ­material.

All of a sudden the value of recaptured plastics increases, making it a valuable commodity. Come on, folks — the world is supposed to be getting smarter, not dumber. We also need to start including the ICI ­(industrial, commercial and institutional) stream in the B.C. Recycling Regulation.

Even in B.C. — a leader in extended producer responsibility regulations — the one for PPP (packaging and printed paper) only applies to residential material. So much of this same recyclable material does not get captured because it is not from a home.

Some “scientist” decided Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore … now apparently plastic checkout bags are to be done away with. As soon as the next pandemic hits, we’ll resurrect the ­checkout bags because they are much more sanitary than the non-recyclable bags they would like you to buy and keep in the trunk of your car.

They did away with ­ashtrays in cars some years back, and what have we got instead? Cigarette butts flying out car windows by the millions starting wildfires.

Please recycle all your packaging, including plastic bags.

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