North Battleford City Hall has asked residents to stop putting their plastic bags in their recycling containers now that Loraas Environmental Services is no longer accepting them.
City Environmental Manager Tammy MacCormack discussed the issue at Monday's council meeting. In her report, she said Loraas Environmental Services contacted the city in February indicating shopping bags and other stretchable plastics will no longer be part of the recycling program. Loraas indicated China, one of the largest markets for the product, is no longer accepting the material. Loraas was stockpiling the material, but since they weren't successful in finding another market, they will eventually need to start sending the material to the landfills instead. MacCormack said one of the problems is the high cost of recycling plastic film.
"It's affecting communities all across North America, where most municipalities market their own recyclables. They no longer have a market for it," MacCormack said. "It's one of those situations where, as consumers, we have to look at our use of plastic bags and plastic in general to see where we are going to make changes. So start remembering to bring your own reusable shopping bags."
She asked residents to start immediately reducing the amount of plastic they put into their recycle bins. MacCormack said Loraas is not going to stop picking up recycling bins right away because they have plastic bags in them during the initial public education process.
The City of North Battleford is starting an awareness campaign to advise residents of the changes, and MacCormack said it would be a good time to make residents aware of what materials are still accepted for recycling. The city will notify the public of the changes on its website starting later this week.
Mayor Ryan Bater said he is concerned how the change will impact the landfill, as residents will be forced to discard their plastic bags in the grey bins for garbage pickup. Bater pointed out that Saskatoon has pre-emptively banned plastic bags from its recycling program.
"Some municipalities are already jumping on this and banning the bags, not from retail outlets but from their own municipal recycling programs," Bater said.
The mayor said local council will discuss the issue with the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
"This is not something North Battleford faces alone,” Bater said, noting the city plans to consult with other communities on the matter.
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