Shoppers leave Independent Grocer with plastic bags of groceries in Whitehorse on Feb. 5. Zero Waste Yukon is launching a petition that will call on the Yukon government to impose a fee for single-use bags across the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Zero Waste Yukon pushes for territory-wide plastic bag fee

In the NWT there was a 70 per cent reduction in bag use with a 25 cent fee

By Rhiannon Russell

Zero Waste Yukon is launching a petition that will call on the Yukon government to impose a fee for single-use bags across the territory.

It’s proposing a higher fee than the five cents some retailers already voluntarily charge for a plastic bag, with the money then entering the government’s recycling fund.

Ideally, the steeper price—for instance, 25 cents—would serve as a stronger deterrent to using the bags and encourage people to bring their own, said Ira Webb, Zero Waste Yukon’s program coordinator.

“I think some people are aware (of the five-cent charge) but I think it largely goes unnoticed,” he said. “Five cents is not really that much but when you start to increase the fee, it starts to add up.”

“It’s just the initial hurdle of planning your shopping and keeping your bags on you in case you have an unplanned shopping trip or something like that. It’s just a matter of getting in that habit. Once you’ve started to try to be conscious of it, it becomes very easy.”

The Northwest Territories introduced a 25-cent fee for single-use bags in 2011. According to NWT government statistics, in 2013-2014, there was a 70 per cent reduction in bag use compared to before the program’s introduction. Roughly 30 million bags have been kept out of NWT landfills and off the land.

The money collected through bag usage there goes to the territorial environment fund, set up to cover program expenses and create new waste reduction and recovery programs.

In the NWT, the fee applies to paper and biodegradable bags, in addition to plastic ones. “The production and use of paper bags requires significant inputs of energy and natural resources,” the government’s website states. “Biodegradable bags are made to degrade under specific environmental conditions. They do not degrade well under NWT landfill and environmental conditions.”

Webb said the goal of the Yukon petition is to have a fee apply to paper bags as well. “It’s about encouraging people to bring their own bags rather than switching from plastic to paper.”

The petition will first be available to the public at Zero Waste Yukon’s annual Indoor Community Garage Sale on Feb. 9. This year, the sale is taking place at the Yukon Convention Centre from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Over each of the past two years, more than 1,000 people walked through the doors, so Webb is hoping the petition will garner many signatures there.

After the garage sale, the petition will circulate through different locations around Whitehorse, including Raven Recycling, Yukon Conservation Society, and Riverside Grocery. It will be available to sign until the legislature’s next sitting in March.

Webb said replacing our single-use bags with reusable ones is a simple fix. “It’s an easy first step,” he said. “It’s kind of a stepping stone to addressing all the other problematic things like single-use cups and styrofoam take-out containers.”

He encourages garage-sale attendees to walk, bike, or take public transit to the event—and also to bring their own reusable bags.

Contact Rhannion Russell at editor@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read