A man carries multiple plastic bags of groceries. (Yukon News/file)

A man carries multiple plastic bags of groceries. (Yukon News/file)

Yukon’s plastic bag ban will come into effect in January

Yukoners are being asked to to “BYOB” or “Bring Your Own Bag.”

The Yukon’s ban on plastic bags will officially come into force on January 1, 2022.

“Reusable bags, as well as other reusable products, are in most of our homes already. We all just need to use them more. This is about making new habits. This is why we are giving Yukoners three months to get into the habit of bringing their own bags with them every day,” said Minister of Environment Nils Clarke.

Clarke said the government is releasing signs, posters and stickers to encourage Yukoners to “BYOB” or “Bring Your Own Bag.”

A ban on paper shopping bags will come into effect a year later on Jan. 1, 2023.

Following his statement in the legislature, Yukon Party environment critic Wade Istchenko said the Liberals “dropped the ball on consultation” and left business owners confused by not providing a clear date when the ban would take affect.

An order-in council was signed on Sept. 29, changing the Environmental Act and putting the bag ban into law. The legislation notes that the “Order comes into force” either on Oct. 1 or the date when filed with the registrar. The third page of the document notes that the plastic bag ban begins three months after the regulation comes into force.

The legislation was followed by a press release on Oct. 1 noting the date as not taking place until January.

Istchenko said there was a lack of clarity that affected business owners.

“It’s business owners who are left literally holding the bag, wondering what’s going on,” he told the legislature on Oct. 13. “While we agree that we all need to reduce our reliance on single-use items, we do take issue with the lack of consultation and the lack of planning by the Liberals.”

The government website suggests businesses with extra stock of single-use bags should donate them to charities like the food bank, which will not be affected by the ban. Other exceptions to the ban include bags for prescription drugs, take-out food, bulk items, produce, live fish, flowers or gift bags.

The communities of Mayo, Dawson and Carmacks already have a ban on single-use plastics.

The plan to eradicate single-use plastics in the remainder of the Yukon was part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement agreement signed between the Liberals and the NDP. The agreement called on the legislation to come into place no later than Dec. 31, 2021.

“We secured a commitment to ban single-use plastic bags in the Yukon. When the political will is there, it’s amazing what can happen,” said NDP MLA Emily Tredger, detailing two past motions from the NDP to eliminate bags that were voted down by the government prior to the CASA negotiation.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Plastic Bag Ban

This article was updated Oct. 20 to note that the order in council stated that non-paper plastic bags would be banned three months after the legislation was changed.