Response to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's plan to ban plastic is a bit of — well, a mixed bag.
The premier announced recently that his newly re-elected Progressive Conservative government will begin consultations with the private sector on ways to get rid of plastic bags in a bid to reduce waste.
"Insane, good luck," said Munther Zeid, owner and manager of Food Fare, a local grocery chain. He said about 75 per cent of his customers use plastic bags, which he provides free, and he's skeptical many will embrace a change.
"I don't think we'll ever find a solution, because we left paper bags to go to plastic to help save the trees.… Now we're trying to get rid of plastic, and if we start making reusable bags, well those reusable bags are made from something. Somewhere down the line we're going to have to find a solution for that too," he said. "I don't think they'll ever find a solution for grocery bags, ever."
But his customer Ruth Henry already has. "I think it should've been enforced a long time ago. I always carry my own bags — reusable bags," she said, while holding a large block of cheese in her hands.
A provincial bag ban was implemented in July in Prince Edward Island, in response to an MLA's concern about plastic clogging waterways.
The rules prohibit businesses in Prince Edward Island from offering single-use plastic bags at the checkout, with paper or reusable bags available instead. Businesses have to charge a minimum of 15 cents for a paper bag and $1 for reusable bags.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government is also working on a ban.
"Some customers are really not using those reusable bags.… Most people don't even remember to put them back in their car every day," Zeid said.
"It better be a good solution and an affordable one for everyone — the store owner to the customer, because at the end of the day, end users pay the price," he said.
Some believe the environment does. "It's important to have them bring this forward as soon as they possibly can to all businesses that use plastic bags, because our landfill sites are getting full of plastic, our oceans," said Peter Wiebe.
"Our animals are dying because of all this, so I feel it's a very good idea," said his partner, Wendy Denby.
In Manitoba, Thompson and The Pas have already implemented a ban.
Zeid said governments should work with manufacturers create a better biodegradable bag that is cheap to produce and cheap for stores, so the cost won't be on customers.
Everything from bread to meat to produce is in plastic bags, he pointed out.
"Plastic is a nightmare."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in June the federal government was starting regulatory work to ban toxic single-use plastics, with a goal of having something in place by 2021.Retailers such as Sobeys have already promised to move toward a countrywide ban.
Pallister said the provincial government will consult with private industry soon but gave no timeline for the ban.
"It's going to be interesting to see what solution he comes up with," said Zeid.