Prince Edward Island bans single-use plastic bags

Islanders and businesses will start removing 30-million, single-use plastic bags from the waste stream each year to protect the environment when the Plastic Bag Reduction Act comes into effect July 1. 

The purpose of the Act is to reduce waste and environmental damage resulting from single-use checkout bags. Prince Edward Island is the first province in Canada to put in place a province-wide plastic bag ban. 

“Islanders are leaders in recycling and we can take pride in the fact we have the lowest amount of waste per person," said Brad Trivers, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change. “Getting rid of the waste associated with plastic shopping bags protects our ocean and our Island.”

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

“This initiative demonstrates PEI’s leadership in waste management, and reinforces that ‘rethinking’, then reducing, reusing and recycling are more important than ever as we move forward,” said Gerry Moore, Chief Executive Officer of the Island Waste Management Corporation.

The intent of the Act is not to replace plastic checkout bags with paper bags. Businesses will charge a minimum fee of 15 cents for paper and $1 for reusable bags to limit excessive amounts of checkout bags. The mandatory minimum fees will also help Island businesses with the cost of transitioning from plastic and paper to reusable bags. 

Other information related to the Act:

  • The Act targets checkout bags (the bag you would normally receive from a cashier);
  • 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 a full list of exemptions);
  • Businesses may use up existing bag supplies purchased prior to July 1, 2019; and,
  • The Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change will welcome consultations on all types of single-use packaging with Islanders and businesses this fall.

For more information visit, Plastic Bag Reduction.

Media contact:
Leanne Ritchie
Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change

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