A group of university students have gathered over 500 signatures on a petition calling for a ban on disposable plastic shopping bags.
Five students at Queen’s University, the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University started the project over the summer under the title “Ban Plastic Bags NB”.
Lavallee Forbes, the leader of the group, said she was inspired after experiencing four months living without plastic bags during a study-exchange term in Morocco.
“It was easy to live without plastic bags and we used fabric bags instead,” the fourth-year student said. “If someone forgot their own reusable bag, some stores would even give low-cost reusable bags for free.”
Forbes and four other students began collecting signatures for their petition this past summer, meeting with Fredericton business owners and going door-to-door. With the help of volunteers, they were able to spread their reach to Saint John, Moncton, Stanley and parts of the west coast.
The group says that 70 per cent of respondents were in favour of the petition. The remaining 30 per cent who declined to sign said the petition was not comprehensive enough as plastic bags are only part of a bigger problem.
Ban Plastic Bags NB received support from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, which has made the petition available on their website and in their office.
The Retail Council of Canada told CTV News in August that they’re not entirely opposed to the concept, but they have some concerns about the challenges further regulations could impose on businesses.
Ban Plastic Bags NB hopes to see their petition presented to the new provincial government this legislative session.
David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Green Party and MLA for Fredericton South, has provided technical guidance to the student group on organizing the petition.
“We support a ban on plastic bags and more to reduce the unnecessary consumption of the material and energy resources that go into manufacturing and distributing plastic products,” Coon wrote in an email to The Brunswickan.
During the fall provincial election, the Liberals announced in their platform a commitment to ban plastic shopping bags and work with the agriculture industry to develop a hemp-based alternative.
The Progressive Conservatives and People’s Alliance did not respond to requests for comment seeking their respective positions on a ban.
Plastic bags have already been banned in France, Italy, Australia and the U.S. state of California. Prince Edward Island is scheduled to implement a ban in July 2019 and will be the first Canadian province to do so.