Plastic bags often get scattered at Cariboo Regional District landfills by wind and birds. This is a photo of the scatter at the South Cariboo Landfill in 100 Mile House, British Columbia. CRD photo.

Cariboo Regional District looks at internal policy in efforts to reduce plastic bags

Plastic bags make up 90 per cent of scatter in Cariboo landfills

Bans on single-use plastic bags are starting to sweep the province.

Several municipalities across the province are working on bylaws to ban plastic bags. Unlike municipalities, regional districts do not have the same authority under the community charter to regulate businesses, so regional districts do not have any of the same tools to put a ban on plastic bags.

“The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) board is considering a policy that would reduce or eliminate the use of single-use plastics and other disposable items in the day-to-day operations of the CRD,” said Emily Epp, manager of communications.

The policy is internal to the CRD and would be the organization’s effort to help reduce the use of plastic bags – something the board only has control over.

“Regional districts can’t regulate any businesses,” said Tera Grady, Supervisor of Solid Waste Management for the Cariboo Regional District. “It would be the responsibility of the council to consider banning single-use plastic bags.”

While plastics in the oceans are considered to be the driving force behind plastic bag trends, there are other problems associated with them that could be considered as overlooked.

Related: Tofino, Ucluelet officially ban plastic bags and straws

Landfills in the Cariboo are exposed to winds and they are accessible to birds. This leads to a lot of “scatter” which is wind-blown material. According to the CRD, almost all of that scatter is made of plastic and easily, 90 per cent of it is plastic bags.

Grady said after a completed audit in May of the curbside recycling at the 108 Mile Ranch, plastic bags were still the most common item of contamination.

Plastic bags are not allowed into curbside recycling programs because they can cause operational malfunctions at the recycling sorting facilities.

Related: Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

The bags can be recycled at depots only. Most of the time, these single-use bags end up in the garbage because not everyone chooses or has the ability to take the items to a designated depot.

Even though landfills are cleaning this up, the bags can still travel quickly and affect fish and wildlife in the region.

“Residents have a role to play in limiting their use of plastic bags by remembering to bring their own reusable ones and recycling all the plastic bags they end up with,” said Epp.

Single-use plastic bags can be recycled at Gold Trail Recycling in 100 Mile House and at CRD sites located in Lac la Hache, Forest Grove, Lone Butte, Interlakes and Watch Lake.

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