Nova Scotia retailers, shoppers, say bye-bye to single-use plastic bags

Nova Scotia retailers are handed out their last single-use plastic bags on Thursday night.

As of Friday, they're banned, and the disappearance of the single-use plastic bag will be most noticeable at major grocery stores.

"It will be a huge adjustment, but i think it will be for the best," said shopper Alli Hay.

Retailers are now offering alternatives like paper or cloth bags, and plastic shopping baskets -- for a price.

Smaller stores, are also making the switch.

The owner of a consignment store, gives her customers recycled reusuable bags.

"Lots of them just take their purchases in their hands and a lot more of them actually bring their own," said Kimberly Crozier.

But there are some exceptions to the ban. Fish will still be sent to their new homes in plastic bags.

"But anything that's dry goods only, we won't be allowed to use bags and customers will have to bring their own bags," said Paul Chang, the owner of Aquarica.

As for other exceptions, they include:

  • dry cleaning bags
  • bags for medical supplies and prescription drugs
  • flower wrap
  • tire protectors
  • bulk food and bags for food not pre-packaged
  • and bags for frozen food, meat, poultry, or fish.

Tony Walker is Nova Scotia's leading expert on environmental pollution and plastics.

He is glad the plan went ahead -- even during the pandemic.

"Many jurisdictions, especially to the south of us, they reversed their plastic bag bans," Walker said. "Even Dr. Strang has maintained that this poses no risk."

The province says any remaining plastic bags left in stores by Friday should be recycled, sold off, or donated to charities, which are still allowed to use them.

The national effort to curb the use of single use plastics doesn't stop at bags.

Earlier this month, Ottawa announced a list of items to be banned in Canada by the end of next year.

Along with plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, food containers, and plastic cutlery are on that list.