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Nova Scotia passes legislation banning single-use plastic bags in 2020

MLAs passed legislation banning the bags on Tuesday at Province House. The law comes into effect in a year, giving retailers and the public time to prepare.

But Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said it might not take a full year for everyone to begin changing their approach, or for retailers to stop making the bags available.

"That'll be up to the industry," said Wilson. "We see some that are doing it now."

Earlier this year, grocery giant Sobeys announced it would no longer offer plastic bags at its stores beginning in January 2020.

Wilson said he expects his department will do some online public education to prepare people for the change.

Although some people have criticized the move as mostly symbolic and not the most effective way to bring about environmental change, Wilson disagreed.

"Taking millions of bags out of circulation is not symbolic. Changing the way we think going into a grocery store is not symbolic."

The minister said the bill is as much about starting a conversation on how people use plastic materials and what will become of them as it is banning single-use bags.

The legislation does include some exemptions, such as the bags used by dry cleaners, the bags used by garages to wrap tires and bags used for items such as fish and bulk foods.

Wilson has not ruled out banning other single-use plastic items, such as straws and cutlery.

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