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City council to reconsider its ban on plastic leaf bags

Published on

Journal Staff

The city will reconsider its decision to ban plastic bags for leaf collection.

In a cost-cutting move, council had voted to eliminate plastic bags on July 1, requiring residents to switch to paper bags for curbside pickup of yard waste.

Sarnia is one of the last municipalities in Ontario that still allows plastic bags, and the switch to paper is projected to save $254,000 a year, largely through reduced “debagging” costs at the compost centre.

But following a public backlash, councillors supported a request last week from Coun. Margaret Bird to reopen debate at their next meeting on May 6.

“Numerous life-cycle assessments demonstrate that conventional plastic bags are better for the environment than paper bags,” Bird states in a written rationale to council, in which she also advocates burning waste plastic to generate electricity.

“Plastic bags were invented as an alternative to paper grocery bags in the late 1970s to protect trees and prevent clear-cutting of our forests, and now it seems we want to ignore that!”

Though residents can mulch or compost their leaves and yard waste to create natural fertilizer, most prefer to rake and bag. In 2017, some 4.7 million kilograms (10.4 million pounds), the equivalent of ten 747 jumbo jets, was trucked to the compost centre.

Almost all of it was stuffed into lower-cost plastic bags, the banning of which has the full support of the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee.

Voting to reconsider were councillors Bird, Dave Boushy, Terry Burrell and Bill Dennis, as well as Mayor Mike Bradley

Councillors Mike Stark, Nathan Colquhoun, George Vandenberg and Brian White were opposed.

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