New amendments to the Environmental Protection Act in Newfoundland and Labrador will allow the provincial government to draft regulations that will ban the distribution of retail plastic bags.

This builds on the province’s ongoing work with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to develop the zero plastic waste strategy as part of the Ocean Plastics Charter.

From March 5 to 27, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador conducted public consultations to gauge interest in a ban of retail plastic bags and to determine the potential impacts of a ban. Consultations data indicated that 87 per cent were in favour of a ban.

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“The consultations we conducted in March indicate the strength of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians convictions: they do not want plastic bags to be distributed at retail locations,” said Graham Letto, minister of municipal affairs and environment. “To protect the environment and improve the waste management system, we have introduced amendments to the legislation that will allow us to draft regulations to ban the retail plastic bag.”

The public engagement process provided valuable information that government will use to inform drafting of the regulations. The regulations will address such considerations as:

  • How long businesses and industry will need to adjust to the change.
  • What types of alternatives people will have available instead of the plastic retail bags.
  • Whether to require a fee on alternatives to limit their overconsumption.
  • Which exceptions are required.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador appreciates the efforts of the individuals, businesses, and communities that have already reduced their use of plastic bags. It is anticipated to take between six and 12 months before the ban is fully implemented. Residents will have this time to get accustomed to bringing reusable bags along when shopping and businesses can begin looking at offering alternatives to plastic retail bags.

To address the broader category of packaging, the provincial government and the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board are working toward establishing an extended producer responsibility program for the management of packaging and printed paper as a long-term strategy.

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