A plastic bag clings to the branches of a small tree in the ditch along Mountain View Drive in Whitehorse. Aug. 1 marked the first day for the Village of Carmacks’ ban on single-use plastic bags. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

No more single-use plastic bags in Carmacks

Village becomes the newest community to ban the bags, following Mayo’s lead 10 years ago

Paper or plastic?

That is no longer a question anywhere in the Village of Carmacks, with Aug. 1 being Day 1 of the community’s ban on single-use plastic bags.

“It’s a done deal,” Carmacks Mayor Lee Bodie said in an Aug. 6 interview.

He said the move came, along with all the environmental reasons, in light of consultation being done by the Yukon government earlier this year on a potential 25-cent charge per bag in the territory to cover the costs of recycling.

Bodie said in addition to taking the survey, he also attended a public meeting where the overwhelming sentiment from many businesses seemed to be in favour of an outright ban.

Shop owners and managers have said they don’t want the hassle that comes with tacking on another another charge with each order.

Bodie knows this first hand as the manager of the Tatchun Centre Store Carmacks.

After the meeting Bodie came back to his council and proposed the ban for the community with the rest council quickly coming on board, voting unanimously in favour of it coming into effect Aug. 1.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Bodie said, pointing out that given the effort to divert waste from the landfill it only makes sense.

The community, as well, was “overwhelmingly supportive,” he said.

At the Tatchun Centre, paper bags, which don’t have the environmental impact plastic does, continue to be available free of charge to customers. Bodie said the gas station next door to the Tatchun Centre and about three or four restaurants are also impacted by the ban, but had a period of months to plan for the change.

In the approximately four-month lead up to the ban, the Carmacks Renewable Resources Council provided everyone in town with a couple of cloth bags. The village ordered another 1,000 bags to dole out.

Bodie is pleased plastic bags will no longer be readily available in Carmacks, but he pointed out his community is by no means leading the way.

The Village of Mayo has been without single-use plastic bags for years, he said.

Mayo Mayor Scott Bolton described his community’s efforts as a voluntary bylaw that came into effect more than 10 years ago.

At that time it was pretty much habit for anything purchased to go in a plastic bag, say for example a pop and bag of chips. That meant the bags quickly piled up at the landfill, so much so that they would blow away from the landfill often ending up on the highway in and out of the community.

Council looked at how to deal with the situation, eventually reaching the decision that the single use plastic bags would no longer be available within the community.

“It was seamless,” Bolton said, adding the grocery store and other businesses used up what was left of their supply and that was that.

As with Carmacks, paper bags continue to be an option for Mayo shoppers, though many residents are accustomed to bringing their own cloth bags into the grocery store or other businesses.

Bags do still find their way into Mayo when residents return from trips to Dawson, Whitehorse or elsewhere, but Bolton said there’s been a substantial reduction in the amount of single-use plastic bags at the landfill and they are no longer found blowing away to the highway.

As for whether other communities may end up banning the bags in the territory, Bodie said he expects an overall ban — whether that’s done through the federal or territorial government — will eventually come into force.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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