TORONTO A small Canadian town claimed the honor
on Monday of being the first municipality in North America to
ban retailers from using plastic bags, in an effort to maintain
its pristine environment.
The town's administrator said Leaf Rapids, a northern
Manitoba mining town about 975 km (610 miles) northwest of
Winnipeg, has ordered retailers to stop giving away or selling
single-use plastic bags as of Monday. Stores that break the law
face a C$1,000 ($865) fine.
The move is the latest step Leaf Rapids has taken to combat
the bags which have littered its streets and landfill. It
became law ahead of a similar ban voted on last week by San
Francisco, which has not yet come into effect.
"Leaf Rapids has always been an environmental community,"
Administrator Bond Ryan said. "It's a relatively new community,
built in the 1970s, and it was built with the environment in
Last year, it placed a levy of 3 Canadian cents on each
plastic bag local merchants gave away, which cut the
approximately 50,000 bags residents used in half, according to
Leaf Rapids decided to go one step further last fall and
ban the bags outright after an Ontario company, which makes
reusable shopping bags, approached the town about introducing a
total ban on single-use plastic bags. The company offered to
set up education programs in local schools and help promote the
Leaf Rapids has since given away about 3,000 of the
reusable polypropylene bags to the town's 600 residents, who
Ryan says have been supportive of the ban.
"People will go ahead on their own anyway, once the
municipality says they'll do things to reduce shopping bag
use," he said.
Leaf Rapids, a planned community that was established to
support a copper and zinc mine, is not the first to crack down
on plastic bags. Ireland introduced a tax on them in 2002 which
reduced their use by 90 percent. Meanwhile, some communities in
Australia have banned them in retail stores since 2003.