Nova Scotia mulling provincewide ban or levy on plastic bags

Scrapyard owner blames tire fire on recycling program

Environment Minister Iain Rankin is considering a provincewide ban or a special levy on plastic bags as a way to limit the mountain of film plastic being used and discarded by Nova Scotians.

"That's an option, but it doesn't solve the whole issue, so that's one of many options out there," Rankin told reporters following a cabinet meeting in Halifax.

"There's other jurisdictions that have put a fee on plastic bags, which is proven to reduce the amount of plastics, but at this point it's incumbent on me to listen to what Nova Scotians want to do, especially the business community and the municipalities."

Earlier this month, his department was forced to temporarily lift a restriction preventing plastic bags and packaging from being dumped into a Hants County landfill because of the growing stockpile of material at a Halifax waste processing plant.

Following a decision by China to stop importing recyclables, Halifax's had accumulated 300 tonnes of recyclable film plastic and had started shipping some of it out of province to be landfilled.

This week, Halifax regional council asked staff to report back on the logistics and feasibility of banning plastic bags in the municipality, and urged the Nova Scotia government to consider a provincewide ban.

Rankin's landfill exemption for Halifax plastics ends in June.

"We do have to make a decision before the sixth month, whether or not we extend or not," he said.

The discussion is an important one, he said, and "we have to reduce the amount of plastics we use in the province, no question about that."

Meantime, the minister is encouraging people to use alternatives to plastic.

"I want to encourage all Nova Scotians to use reusable bags."