COMOX, B.C. – At least one Comox councillor is happy with the federal government’s plan to ban single-use plastics.

That’s because Nicole Minions is championing the same cause in the town.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the federal government will:

  • “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks) where supported by scientific evidence and warranted, and take other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging; and
  •   “work with provinces and territories to introduce standards and targets for companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging so they become responsible for their plastic waste.”

In January, Minions put forth a notice of motion, asking staff to create a report on the potential ban of single use (disposable) plastic bags, single use straws, and plastic produce bags in the town.

READ MORE: Comox council asks staff for plastic bag report

The report is currently in process.

Meanwhile, Cumberland plans to phase out single use plastic items while Courtenay is exploring the possibility, as well. On today’s City of Courtenay council agenda is the final adoption of a bylaw to regulate the business use of single use plastics.

“It should be a good week,” Minions said Monday morning. “Courtenay has it on their agenda today, and we have a report from staff on the schedule for this Wednesday. I’ll be motioning to move forward with that report and, at the will of council, we will hopefully be seeing some action this week.

“Just Comox Valley-wide I think it was going to be a good week for looking at plastics, and so the news from the federal government is good timing, as well, that there’s action across the country, although it’s not till 2021.”  

The federal government notes that less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled, adding that without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.

According to National Geographic, 40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, used just once, and then discarded.

The Comox Valley Nurses for Health and the Environment are also pushing for a Comox-wide ban, and say single-use bags present an ecological danger because they degrade into microplastics and further leach into soils, groundwater, and the ocean.

Minions said Comox residents are already taking steps to reduce their use of plastic.

“For the most part I think people are already getting on board themselves, so it’s seen a lot of natural, voluntary interest,” she added. “There’s been a little bit, mostly on social media, where you see people questioning that it should be something that the government gets involved with, but I think as the federal government is putting out the research that so much of our recycling is going to where it should go, or where it can go. Consumption is a good place to go.”

She said a six-month timeline to a full ban should give people plenty of time to prepare.

“Cumberland is starting theirs July 1st, I believe,” she said. “They’ll be first in the valley and we’ll kind of see how it goes.”