A Nanaimo city councillor is looking for alternatives to a plastic bag ban.
In November, city council directed staff to draft a bylaw that phases out plastic bags and develop a consultation plan, with Coun. Jim Turley the lone dissenter. While people are able to recycle plastic bags, Turley said the rate is low and would like to see more incentive. He gauged interest at a Nanaimo Sea Cadet bottle drive on Feb. 9 and said 40 “big yard bags” were filled, with half being bags used for bottles.
“These plastic bags are recyclable, but they’re not being recycled very often because there’s no incentive for people to do that, so what I’m trying to do is to get some ideas to the response on the bottle drive when we pick up plastic bags at the same time, to see if there is an appetite for people to pass them on,” said Turley. “If there is, then we can go to Recycle B.C. to see if we can set up some sort of a deposit scenario where groups like this can collect plastic bags for a refund when they turn them in.”
After inquiring with Regional Recycling in Nanaimo, Turley said he was told that bags are being recycled at times and those that aren’t go to waste-to-energy facilities. There is a market for plastic bag recycling, he said.
“Well I went online to this ReGen Composites in Manitoba and they manufacture a whole range of items like benches, the other thing that’s really interesting, they make construction blocks, they’re 30 per cent lighter than concrete blocks and they’re fire resistant and they grind up all the plastic into pellets and that’s what they use as the material in the blocks,” said Turley. “Obviously there’s things happening in the industry that we’re looking at all this stuff as potential use.”
Turley has informed city staff and council about the initiative and will even meet the Regional District of Nanaimo to discuss the matter.
“I’d hoped to perhaps have it ready for [Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference] in Powell River in April, but I’ve already missed the deadline,” said Turley. “I personally didn’t want to push it because I didn’t know what kind of a result we’d get and I wanted to do that as step one.”