Plastic Bags – A Disappearing Act

May 28, 2008

Healthy Environment

A resident just sent me a Toronto Star article about the LCBO eliminating plastic bags from their stores:

Here are some stats from that article:

3.5 billion – the number of plastic shopping bags used in Ontario each year.

80 million – the number of plastic bags LCBO’s move will eliminate each year.

20 minutes – the average time each bag is used. 

400 years – the time it takes on average for a plastic shopping bag to break down.

We have seen more local retailers encouraging their customers to use reusable bags.  Many are selling them. 

The draft Waste Management Master Plan is proposing that the City initiate a  program to work with local retailers to further encourage this practice.

Is it time that plastic bags disappeared?

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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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7 Comments on “Plastic Bags – A Disappearing Act”

  1. Mike Wisniewski Says:

    I had heard the average usage of a plastic bag is 4 minutes, but I could be wrong.

    I’m glad the LCBO is getting rid of plastic bags. It shows the government is ENCOURAGING environmental responsibility not ENFORCING it.

    I try to use my reusable bags as much as I can.

    To answer your question, yes, it is time we make them disappear, BUT it is we the PEOPLE not the GOVERNMENT that has to make this happen.

    If you looked closely enough, the Merc ran a small piece on a CWDHS student who attended a council meeting here in Centre Wellington to present a petition advocating my township ban plastic bags. I had the privilege to sit in on this but had mixed feelings. While I was glad to see a 16-year old become engaged in the political process, it was for an issue on which we are on opposing sides.

    Go figure

  2. Doug Says:

    Well, it seems everybody has a short memory.
    The main reason we started using plastic bags was to save all the trees being cut down to make paper bags.
    Plastic bags are second only to cloth bags as being the most environmentally friendly. Paper bags are a distant third on the list.
    Paper bags use as much as 6 times more raw material to produce, 4 times more energy, 7 times more transportation and storage resources and for the most part can only be used once.
    The LCBO cloth bags are made in China, and we all know their environmental record, cost about 6 cents to make and sell for $3+.
    Perhaps, like most of the Green movement, this is just about making money from people’s fears.

  3. Matt Shacklady Says:

    I think we are trying to move forward – not back…returning to paper bags is not the answer, and I don’t think anyone is saying it is.

    There are a multitude of problems in the world – the cloth is probably from heavily pesticide sprayed fields – the workers are paid next to nothing – the gas in shipping the bags from China. I agree they are all big problems – we have to tackle them one at a time though.
    Just because using cloth does not bring about world peace, global equality and environmental harmony does not mean it’s not an improvement over the current situation. We need to embrace them and continue to move forward to correct all the other issues as well.

    No one ever mentions picking up your item and carrying it out of the store without any kind of bag….that should be the first option.

  4. Ric Jordan Says:

    Just returned from Ireland and was pleasantly surprised by the ban on plastic bags there. Took a bit of getting used to at the ‘Centra’ when we looked to buy supplies since we were tourists and hadn’t brought bags with us but it was wonderful not to see plastic bags blowing in the country side. On the down side they wrap their hay/straw bales in plastic as we do here and the country side has much of it along the roadside. Urban areas much cleaner than the country.


  5. Bunny Safari Says:

    Eliminating plastic bags is just the tip of the mountain. We as consumers need to encourage the food companies to be innovative in their reduction of excess packaging. All one needs to do is really look at all of that packaging filling up our clear bags and it is obvious to see what the problem really is.

    I know that the British retailer Marks & Spencers has introduced a certain type of film for some of their products that is biodegradable and has replaced plastic cling wrap. Why aren’t Canadian food companies being innovative in this department? It is the consumer and municipalities who are left with the excess to deal with.

    Fortunately some companies are taking note of this issue, such as Harmony milk who offers milk in returnable glass bottles (of course, a deposit is required, but I can remember when pop bottles also charged a deposit.).


    I am curious as to what city council is doing to eliminate the wasteful use of green, blue and clear bags. If our garbage isn’t being recycled and composted as it used to be then why are we adding extra plastic bags to that landfill? I understood that the continuing effort to sort our waste was to keep us in practice. Well I am a pro, but I am disturbed that we aren’t even recycling. Why not give us back our blue boxes and give us a discount on composters for our yards?? If I am wrong in this please feel free to correct me and lighten the heavy feeling I have on my shoulders about this issue.
    PS make your own cloth bags for shopping if you can’t afford the 99 cents to buy them.

  7. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Just to clarify, the City is still recycling – you can read about it in the earlier post, “Where is our waste going”:

    You are allowed to put your clear and blue waste in garbage cans/bins as long as the cans are clearly labelled “Blue” and “Clear” – many people just write it on the can with a black magic marker.

    I hope this helps.

    Kate Sullivan, Mayor’s Office

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