Victoria’s plastic bag ban will create undue hardship for local retailers and customers, columnist says. News file photo

OPINION: Great Shopping Bag Hoax happening in Victoria

Former plastics worker points out flaws in reasons for bag ban

In Africa, several countries have banned polyethylene shopping bags.

In Kenya, the penalty for manufacturing, importing, distributing or even carrying a poly shopping bag is extreme: $38,000 or four years in prison. This draconian measure was absolutely necessary. Many African countries are now up to their knickers in plastics waste. Kenya’s abattoirs routinely find an average of 20 bags in the stomachs of slaughtered cattle.

Victoria council has also voted a bylaw banning poly shopping bags, with a heavy fine of $10,000 for non-compliance. Whilst Kenya’s ban was an extreme necessity, Victoria’s ban is an exercise in bylaw bullying to suit a single small interest group and some councillors’ political ambitions. City councils are supposed to help their retailers, not hobble them and this nasty, far reaching edict will cause havoc with myriad small retailers and their customers.

According to the CRD’s legal guidelines, this bylaw would not withstand the first court challenge, but city council ignored it.

And therein lies the reason it even happened. I have labelled it Fashionable Environmental Urban Mythology. And just like Trump, it is alive and well.

I am a serious and savvy environmentalist, but I long ago began to question the ‘gospel’ some enviro groups spout. Coun. Ben Isitt recently wrote profuse thanks to the Surfrider Foundation for pretty much causing this bylaw to be enacted, even though the information they supplied was largely fiction. I have lost respect for the Surfrider Foundation over this hoax.

Contrary to what they say, poly shopping bags are not a pollution issue on Vancouver Island. We are not littering our landscapes, lakes, rivers and streams with poly bags. They are not on our streets nor in our storm drain systems. Bags are not windblown onto our ocean beaches. Think prevailing winds. There is plastics debris there, but we do not go to the ocean to discard plastic bags. C’mon, we are a clean society.

That debris is plastic flotsam from Asia brought here on the Japan Current. It’s been coming to North American shores for at least six decades. The fact Surfrider used this junk from Asian countries with abysmal environmental habits to bolster the idea that we are doing it, and that poly shopping bags are a serious part of the problem, is outrageous and repellent.

Polyethylene is among the nicest plastics to recycle and it pays its way. One of the most misleading monikers of the bags is ‘single use.’ They are reusable, most useful and when recycled, become something else.

Victoria council has empowered a small group of amateur environmentalists and made law at only their behest. It threatens the proper operation of thousands of small retailers and customers. For what?

Robert Matthews is a retired self-described plastics artificer who worked with plastics for more than 50 years and now consults on commercial pollution solutions. He lives on the Saanich Peninsula .

Just Posted

National championship tees off Tuesday at Oak Bay’s Victoria Golf Club

Oldest 18-hole course in Canada in its original location hosts Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship

New Victoria bus routes bound for airport, Camosun College

Bus routes and schedules are about to change this fall, and two… Continue reading

Michael Silberbauer named first coach of Pacific FC

The Island’s James Merriman named assistant coach

Police seek vehicle after early morning carjacking in Oak Bay

Stolen car is a 1999 Oldsmobile Alero, license plate FL307T

Salmon Fest serves up support for Kiwanis Pavilion

Scrumptious fundraiser enjoys success for second year

VIDEO: Car wash raises funds for Tour de Rock

Second car wash is set for Sept 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Oak Bay High, 2121 Cadboro Bay Rd.

Suspect in Spiderman suit steals camera on Vancouver Island

Suspect in red and blue “onesie” caught on surveillance footage breaking into truck in Nanaimo

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Zeballos wildfire not getting any closer to town – BC Wildfire Service

Authorities optimistic about Zeballos; choppers grounded due to heavy smoke

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

UPDATE: Saanich Police seek to identify suspect in sexual assault

Assault occurred in broad daylight in tent near Ravine Way

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source