Askew’s Operations Manager Dave Wallace tells council at the public hearing May 27 on the bylaw banning single use plastic bags of his support for the bylaw as well as his ideas for further environmental improvements. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Compostable bags won’t be an option under Salmon Arm’s plastic bag ban

Bylaw banning single-use plastic bags at check-out will offer paper, reusable options

Compostable plastic bags won’t be an alternative under the City of Salmon’s new bylaw banning single-use plastic bags.

After hearing yet more input from citizens at the official public hearing for the bylaw on May 27, city council voted unanimously (Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond was away) to approve third reading without further changes.

Dave Wallace, Askew’s operations manager, expressed his support.

“I think the bylaw is fantastic… It probably takes a lot of guts these days to take such a big step…”

He also expressed one concern before the vote – whether paper is the best option, other than a reusable bag, to give to customers who forget to provide a bag at the check-out.

“Would you consider using a 100 per cent compostable bag as an option?” he asked. “Paper bags are the feel-good option, but not necessarily the best option.”

Wallace said paper bags are made in California, and take seven times the number of semi-trailer loads as plastic bags.

He said he views paper bags as a one-time bag, more so than plastic bags. He sees kids carrying green plastic Askew’s bags to school, which he doesn’t think will happen with paper bags. 

Wallace adds that he’s looking forward to a tougher version of the bylaw.

“I can’t wait till there are a little more teeth in it. Meat bags, produce bags, I’d like to see them all gone.”

Mayor Alan Harrison asked how many plastic bags a store the size of Askew’s goes through at the check-out counter in a year.

“Before we started charging five cents a bag, I’m pretty sure two million per year in the four stores,” Wallace said. “With five cents last year, I believe one million.”

Read more: Salmon Arm mayor proposes plastic bag ban for new years

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Read more: Plastic Bag Association takes Victoria to court once again over single-use bag ban

Check-out bag regulations in the bylaw include allowing a business to provide a check-out bag to a customer if the bag provided is a paper or reusable bag and if a fee of not less than 15 cents is charged per paper bag and $1 per reusable bag.

Susan Robinson, president of the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports getting rid of plastic bags but believes adding compostable bags would be the way to go.

Brad DeMille of DeMille’s Farm Market agreed paper is not the solution, suggested finding a good compostable option, then weaning people off plastic more slowly than the six months in the bylaw.

Herman Bruns from Mara favoured urging the province to create a robust recycling system due to all the other plastics needing recycling.

Brittany Murphy said she is very supportive of the ban and would like to see single-use containers at restaurants included.

Coun. Chad Eliason, who has championed curbside recycling and garbage collection since he was elected in 2005, noted that curbside kitchen waste collection is coming up in July.

“This bag ban makes sense as our next environmental step.”

Read more: Video update – Shuswap store owners wants plastic bag ban to be customer friendly

Read more: One more chance to weight in on Salmon Arm’s plastic bag ban

Read more: North Okanagan could ban single-use plastic bags by 2020

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren said she favours keeping it simple; if people don’t want to buy a paper bag, then there’s a cloth bag.

Mayor Alan Harrison added that the bylaw is not trying to push people to paper, but to reusable. His concern about compostable bags is that they could be put in a garbage bag and go to the landfill, where they won’t break down.

In the end, all members of council present agreed.


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