Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) is stressing the responsibility for any ban on single-use plastic bags in the province must fall on to the provincial government and not towns.
At MNL’s annual general meeting in Corner Brook last month, members voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution presented by the Town of Torbay calling for a provincially mandated ban.
The resolution specifically called on MNL to request the provincial government prohibit all retail stores from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout shopping bags, reaffirming a commitment to an existing policy position determined in 2015.
Both the 2015 and 2017 resolutions reason that 275 individual municipal bans will result in an uneven patchwork of conflicting municipal regulations.
MNL president Tony Keats said regulation of the retail sector is a provincial responsibility, and MNL and its members do not support an amendment to the Municipalities Act that puts the onus of a ban onto municipalities.
"The provincial government must understand that most municipalities don’t have the administrative capacity to implement or enforce this ban at the local level," Keats said in a news release Tuesday.
"We can only do this if a ban on single-use plastic bags happens at the provincial level. Doing it at the municipal level will be expensive, complicated, and it just won’t work."
According to MNL, its position on a provincial ban on single-use plastic bags has received widespread public support, within the environmental sector and with business groups.
"Despite store bag recycling programs, biodegradable bag experiments, and widespread incentives to adopt reusable bags, there are still 100 million single-use plastic shopping bags used each year in our province that require approximately 1.6 million litres of oil to produce, adding considerably to our carbon footprint,”
"On top of that almost 50 per cent of all windborne litter escaping from landfills is plastic, much of it single-use plastic bags that end up tangled in trees or floating in our inland and coastal waters."