Everyone has a part to play to reduce single use plastics

Merie Surkan

This summer, as you are packing for the beach or organizing family barbeques, you may also be planning a more environmentally friendly way to transport groceries.

Prince Edward Island will be doing its part to reduce single use plastics when the Plastic Bag Reduction Act comes into effect July 1, 2019. The law intends to reduce waste and environmental damage resulting from single-use checkout bags, and to encourage use of reusable bags. 

Island Waste Management Corporation (IWMC) marketing and public relations guru, Merie Surkan has been working with Island businesses to get them up to speed on new sorting rules and educating the public to reduce plastic, invest in cloth bags and recycle paper bags.

“This is a good thing; there is just way too much wasted plastic,” Merie says.

The Act prohibits businesses from providing plastic checkout bags to customers after July 1. Instead, consumers are encouraged to use paper bags or higher quality reusable bags which generally hold more, are more durable and produce less waste.

“We are changing sorting guides so that paper bags will be sorted differently than before the new Act. Brown paper bags used to be composted; now we are recycling them,” Surkan explained.

Paper bags will be bundled with corrugated cardboard for collection on blue bag day or put in blue bags with office paper, newspaper, flyers and brown paper used for packaging. IWMC will be updating Islanders in its newsletter and running contests through social media to help raise awareness of the sorting changes.

The paper bags will be shipped to a recycling plant in Montreal where they will be made into new corrugated cardboard, Surkan explained.  

“Reducing plastics and disposable items in our society as a whole is something we should all work toward,” said Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change Brad Trivers. “Nothing stops each and every one of us from making the switch today to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in our day-to-day lives.” 

Other important information to be aware of as July 1, 2019: 

  • A business can no longer provide plastic checkout bags to customers – the focus of the Act is on the checkout bag you would typically get from a cashier;
  • Biodegradable or compostable plastic checkout bags are prohibited;
  • Paper bags (minimum charge of $0.15 per bag) or reusable checkout bags (minimum charge of $1.00 per bag) are an option;
  • Businesses should not offer free  paper or free reusable checkout bags however there is an exception to provide small recyclable paper bags (size: less than 600 square centimetres) at no charge; 
  • Limited exemptions for plastic bag use in stores include bags used to protect prepared foods, loose items, food safety, medications, dry cleaning or some bulk items (refer to sub-section 5 of the act for list of exemptions); and,
  • Businesses may use up existing bag supplies purchased prior to July 1, 2019.
  • Learn more about what this means to consumers and businesses. 
Learn more about what this means to consumers and businesses.


General Inquiries

Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action
4th Floor, Jones Building
11 Kent Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-5044
Toll-free: 1-866-368-5044
Fax: 902-368-5830
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