Plastic bags at retail outlets have a short lifespan.
Often, after the goods are taken home, the bags are discarded.
But the plastics in the bags do not biodegrade and can take many years to break down.
Recently, students at Summerland Secondary School have taken on an initiative to ban plastic shopping bags within Summerland.
The students made a presentation to municipal council and have started a petition with more than 400 signatures.
At first glance, banning plastic bags seems like an easy solution to a messy problem.
In 2016, nearly 52 tonnes of plastic bags ended up in Summerland’s landfill. A bag ban could reduce this amount of waste.
But there are questions to be considered before implementing a ban.
Will this ban be a workable solution to reduce the amount of plastic waste the community generates, or will it become a significant inconvenience and annoyance to shoppers?
At present, Summerland’s two grocery stores continue to offer plastic bags, but the bags now come at a charge. As a result, many shoppers now bring their own reusable bags to the stores.
This solution works at grocery stores or other businesses where customers return frequently, but will a similar solution work at other retail businesses?
Would a charge for each bag provided be a better solution at retail stores?
Efforts at waste reduction should be applauded, and a way to reduce plastic bag waste is an important step towards reaching this goal.
Through their efforts, the students have already started some community discussion about plastic bag use. They have encouraged many to think about bags and packaging.
Whether the end result is a plastic bag ban or another initiative, the goal of reducing plastic waste is a worthwhile cause.