The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) is encouraging local businesses to be cautious before they consider switching the types of bags they offer their customers.
The ask comes after the RDNO announced that they are at the preliminary stages of creating a bylaw to regulate single-use plastics.
“While we welcome the enthusiasm and passion that people have shown for moving away from single-use plastics, like plastic bags, we have not drafted the bylaw yet,” said Mike Fox, RDNO general manager of community services. “We do not want to see businesses make changes before the regulations are defined only to have to make further changes if the new type of material they chose is also banned when the bylaw is adopted.
“There are big differences between compostable and biodegradable plastics. They are not all made the same, are not regulated consistently, and some are not environmentally friendly.”
Businesses will be given six months to a years’ notice when the bylaw is put in place, along with clear information on which materials will be permissible and which will be banned in the regulations.
“Without the bylaw and single-use plastics diversion program finalized, we cannot confirm that compostable and biodegradable bags will be permitted. They may be, but there are many other factors that we have to consider before we can say either way,” said Fox.
The Compost Education Centre located in Victoria offers a variety of information on composting including an Understanding Compostable Plastics factsheet that helps explain the different types of plastics, bio-plastics, and compostable plastics available.
As stated on the factsheet, “despite many claims, the technology does not exist to make a plastic bag that will completely compost in backyard bins or piles and even most certified compostable products still do not break down effectively within the designated processing time at commercial facilities. The best way to reduce waste and support our planet is to reduce the amount of plastic we use in the first place, compostable or otherwise.”
Residents are encouraged to use reusable bags to support the RDNO mandate of rethinking consumption, reducing waste, and reusing items. For more information on compostable plastics, please visit www.compost.bc.ca.