Ottawa: The Plastic Bag Outlier
It was only a matter of time.
The moment it was decided residents would be allowed to use plastic bags to wrap food and dog waste and then dump it all in the green bin, there was bound to be backlash from the left wing members of the city council.
And they're half right.
Tobi Nussbaum was quick off the mark, with an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen. In it he said: "The stark and negative impact of single use plastics means we ought to be considering how to reduce their consumption, not facilitate their use."
Following close behind was another left leaning member of the council, Catherine McKenney. She tweeted: "Plastic bags have no place in the green bin.... or anywhere else for that matter. We need to #banplasticbags not find new uses for them."
About the only surprising thing about mulling a plastic bag ban in Ottawa is that it didn't come up sooner. I raised the issue on my radio show in mid-January, reporting at the time this is already the bylaw in Montreal. The only plastic bags allowed are of the very thin variety, the kind you pull off the roll to wrap meats and vegetables. Grocers aren't even allowed to offer plastic bags to customers at the checkout.
Starting this summer in Victoria, businesses will not be allowed to provide customers with single-use plastic bags. It's paper bags only and the business must charge 15 cents, increasing to 25 cents, as of July 1st of next year.
Earlier this year, the City of Halifax came close to passing a similar measure. It's council reversed course at the last minute, instructed staff to investigate the issue and report back later this year.
Allowing residents to use any type of plastic bag in what is supposed to be an organic waste stream is just the latest oddball decision from a city council that was hoodwinked into an awful 20-year contract.
Ottawa's annual collection target has been reduced, after falling well short through the first eight years.
Stranger still is the decision to continue the ban on compostable single use coffee pods. They're offered by chains like Bridgehead and Orgaworld (the private company processing the material) says they're perfectly fine.
Council's left wing is half right. Plastic bags in the green bin, bags that end up in the local landfill, smells of a city desperate to make a bad program work no matter how backward it is. But it's too late for finger pointing. Bad planning, all in the the name of green, is what got us here in the place.
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