April 9-16, 2007

Manitoba town becomes first Canadian community to ban single-use plastic shopping bags

A new bylaw in effect as of April 2, 2007 has made the northern Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids (population 550) the first Canadian community to ban single-use plastic check-out bags. Bylaw 462 states that retailers will no longer be permitted to give away or sell plastic shopping bags that are intended for single use; only multi-use, reusable bags will be accepted. Violations of the bylaw could bring fines up to $1000.00.

The town took its cue from jurisdictions such as Australia and Ireland, where taxes and bans have dramatically reduced the use of plastic bags. The move toward a total ban on single-use plastic bags began in May 2006 when a three-cent-per-bag levy was imposed on every plastic shopping bag being given out by local merchants.

Then, last September, Bring Your Own Bag(TM), a reusable enviro-bag program developed by Instore Products, pitched the idea to the town administrators of making Leaf Rapids Canada's first single-use plastic-bag-free community. The local government responded favourably, as did the town's residents, roughly half of whom had already started using recyclable bags by the time the bylaw took effect.

"With the support of all resident and visitors, we anticipate that the By-Law will eliminate over 50,000 plastic bags from our waste stream in the first year of the ban. And with the support of Bring Your Own Bag, we can promote and enforce the use and re-use of this important environmental program," said Bond Ryan, municipal administrator for Leaf Rapids.

To kick off the program, Bring Your Own Bag is donating 5,000 of their multi-use, reusable shopping bags. Additional bags can be purchased for 99 cents each at all retail locations in Leaf Rapids.

Instore Products, the developer of Bring Your Own Bag, has been promoting environmental responsibility in the retail industry since 1991. The company calculates that it has helped divert more than 100 million plastic bags from landfills in North America over the past 16 years. More information is available on-line at www.bringyourbag.com.

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