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Co-op ponders fee for plastic bags

Jessica Klinkenberg
Northern News Services
Published Friday, October 26, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - The Yellowknife Direct Co-op may start charging shoppers five cents for plastic bags next year.

Leanne Tait, president of the Co-op's membership board, said to reduce garbage, one suggestion is to look at encouraging people to buy reusable canvas bags.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

The Yellowknife Co-op's board has suggested charging five cents for plastic bags starting next April. Here a group of plastic bags overtake a canvas bag. - Jessica Klinkenberg/NNSL photo illustration

"We go through about half-a-million bags a year," she said, the majority of which end up in the landfill.

If approved by the board, the five cent charge wouldn't go through until April 2008, Tait said.

"Before we do anything about it we want to go to the membership and ask them," she said.

Tait isn't sure how the co-op membership will respond to the proposal.

"We're not going to second guess what the results will be," she said. "If the results come back 'no,' then we'll put our heads together and see ... what is another way around the issue."

Tait said the five cents earned from plastic bags could go towards charitable organizations.

"This is not a tax to get more money from our customers," she said. "The goal is to be environmentally responsible."

She said that with the charge of five cents a plastic bag, she's hoping members will instead opt to use reusable canvas bags instead, which Co-op is selling for 39 cents.

Out on the Co-op parking lot, one customer who did not wish to be named said that she didn't think the Co-op was doing it for environmental purposes but to save money.

Shopper Penny Dixon, originally from England, said people there are encouraged to purchase their own bags, which are thicker and biodegrade faster.

"I think it's a good thing," she said. "I was going to talk to management about it. It encourages people to bring their own bag."

Serge Cote, who works at the Co-op, said that charging five cents makes sense because it encourages people to purchase reusable bags.