‘Almost comical’ – Yellowknifers throwing away an unlikely item

Reusable grocery bag pushing up the daisies
Artist's impression of a reusable grocery bag in its death throes.
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Yellowknife’s dump is dealing with increasing quantities of an unlikely item: reusable grocery bags.

The whole point of the reusable bags is, traditionally, to reuse them. But it appears some residents now own so many that the older ones are meeting the same fate as the plastic bags they were designed to replace, and ending up at the dump.

“I don’t find it comical, but it almost is comical,” Peter Houweling, superintendent of Yellowknife’s solid waste facility, told the CBC.

“We’re starting to see an influx of reusable grocery bags in our waste stream. I think it’s important for all of us to remember why we produce reusable items and that they aren’t disposable.

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“If we don’t treat them with respect and use them appropriately, they’re going to get to a point where we’re back to where we were with plastics.”

According to a 2006 report by the UK’s Environment Agency, standard reusable bags issued by supermarkets would need to be used at least 11 times to have a positive impact on the environment compared to a disposable plastic bag.

Similarly, cotton bags would need to be used 131 times to make a difference.

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