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Quebecers still uninformed about plastic bag benefits: survey

Quebecers remain unclear about the environmental benefits of plastic shopping bags, according the to results of a r...


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June 23, 2008 by Canadian Plastics

Quebecers remain unclear about the environmental benefits of plastic shopping bags, according the to results of a recent survey conducted for the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA).

The CROP survey indicated one-third of Quebecers still don’t know that plastic bags represent a recoverable resource that can be recycled, and almost half think all biodegradable plastic bags can be recycled. Additionally, nearly a quarter of the province’s residents continue to throw away their empty plastic bags with the garbage.

“Most people don’t understand that plastic shopping bags are a good environmental choice second to only reusable bags. Plastic shopping bags are a recoverable, reusable and recyclable resource that can be easily managed based on the 3 R’s of sustainable development,”said Pierre Dubois, charge d’affaires for the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC), an organization founded by the CPIA to promote and encourage use and recovery of residual plastic materials.

“The CROP survey confirms that few people know the difference between a recyclable bag, a biodegradable bag or even a compostable bag,” he continued. “It underscores the need for bags to be certified as recyclable. As an industry we must do a much better job educating consumers and ensure that plastic bags are certified and clearly marked for consumers as recyclable. We need to take the confusion out of the marketplace and make it easy for consumers to recycle all these plastic bags.”

Of particular concern, the CROP survey shows that close to 50 per cent of Quebecers attempt to recycle their biodegradable plastic bags with non-biodegradable bags mixing the different bag types in the recycling stream.

The survey is part of the CPIA’s efforts to work with the provincial and municipal governments and retailers to advance reduction, reuse and recycling strategies on plastic shopping bags. “We’ve committed ourselves to work with the government and our municipal partners to facilitate better access to recycling and improve the performance of recovery work in municipal sorting centres,” Dubois said. “The industry will soon present its code of good practice, which will round out and complete the code presented by retailers in April.”

The industry code will contain a number of commitments to help promote the reuse and recycling of bags such as a certification program for bags.

A website, www.myplasticbags.ca, has also been set up for Quebecers to consult when they need information on the right way to recycle their plastic bags.

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