ACIP Québec

ACIP Québec

October 27, 2005 11:59 ET

Bill 390 a Step Backward for the Environment

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 27, 2005) - A private member's bill introduced today in the Quebec National Assembly is an intervention in search of a 'problem'.

Bill 390 would prohibit plastic shopping bags that are non-biodegradable. What is the rationale? Is it a concern over litter? The amount of residential waste going to landfill?

Here are the facts:

- Independent audit studies have shown that plastic shopping bags
account for less than half of one per cent of litter.

- Plastic shopping bags account for less than one per cent of
residential solid waste in landfill sites.

- More than half of all plastic shopping bags are re-used.

- The domestic plastics industry was the first in the world to work
with government to implement curbside collection programs for
plastic shopping bags, and Quebec has been a major supporter of
these recycling programs.

More importantly, Bill 390 likely would have negative consequences for the environment. If only biodegradable plastic shopping bags are permitted, those bags that do go to landfill will decompose - releasing leachates into the groundwater and methane gas into the atmosphere.

That's why countries around the world are moving to reduce biodegradable materials in landfill. For example, the European Union has set out statutory diversion targets to reduce the amount of biodegradables in landfill by 65 per cent over the next 15 years. Bill 390 flies in the face of modern landfill management practices, and would move Quebec backward - not forward - in protecting the environment.

This bill could also create other problems. Some municipalities in the province have already publicly expressed their concerns about the potential negative impact of biodegradable plastic shopping bags on their recycling programs - for example, contaminating the recycling stream, causing sorting problems, and increasing costs.

Plastic bag manufacturers take seriously their commitment to product stewardship. The industry works with retailers to promote the proper packing and use of bags. It works with municipalities to expand curbside recycling. It helps to develop viable markets for recycled plastic bags. It provides consumer information about re-use and recycling.

"Our goal is to keep as many plastic shopping bags as possible out of landfill," said Denis Cloutier, Chair of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA). "But for those bags that do go to landfill, biodegradability is not the answer. Bill 390 would do more harm than good. It would hamper efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments. It could disrupt existing recycling efforts."

"The bill shows a lack of understanding of the facts," Cloutier added. "For all of these reasons, we expect it will be defeated."

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association represents the broad plastics sector, including resin suppliers, mold and machinery equipment manufacturers, processors, reprocessors, brokers and recyclers.

In Canada, plastic bag manufacturers employ more than 3,000 people.

Contact Information

  • ACIP Quebec
    Denis Cloutier
    (514) 384-5060
    (514) 892-7043 (Cell)