Atlantic Canada

Leadership on Plastic Bags

For over 40 years Atlantic Canada has been a leader showing the rest of Canada how to build the circular economy. We did it first.

Innovations born right here in Atlantic Canada were exported and adopted across Canada and North America, as far south as Florida, laying the groundwork for what today policymakers call extended producer responsibility and the circular economy. It is closed loop bag-to-bag recycling.

Inteplast World Leading Plastics Innovator

Welcome to Inteplast, one of Canada’s leading manufacturers and recyclers of plastic shopping bags located in Saint John, New Brunswick.

We call it bag to bag recycling or at store recycling. We not only manufacture the bags but recycle them in a closed loop.

Bag-to-bag closed loop recycling - the circular economy at work

It was 1988 and we had a revolutionary idea about a process that could protect the environment and conserve resources and save Maritimers lots of money.

And we began the hard work of innovating new processes and technologies to build a closed loop system that sees plastic shopping bags distributed by grocery stores to customers returned by customers by those same customers to retailers to be recycled by us, the plastic bag manufacturer.

Today bag-to-bag or at-store recycling has been adopted wholeheartedly throughout Canada -- in Western Canada, the Prairies, Central Canada and across the Maritimes.

How it works

Threat to local jobs posed by bag bans

  • Plastic shopping bags have been locally manufactured in the Maritimes (in New Brunswick) for decades providing quality manufacturing & recycling jobs in the Atlantic Region.
  • Bag bans clearly put these local recycling and manufacturing jobs at risk.

Protecting the Environment

  • The most recent scientific environmental impact studies using Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) conducted by the Government of Denmark, the Government of Quebec and the British Government - prove that plastic shopping bags are the best bag to protect the environment. Most important, they show that plastic shopping bags are not single use bags. They have up to a 77% reuse rate to manage household waste. Plastic shopping bags are multi-use and multi-purpose bags.
  • The Quebec Government LCA in particular showed that:
    • Reusable bags have a much greater carbon footprint and require multiple reuses to match the environmental impact of the 17-micron thin bag used just once.
    • The Polypropylene (PP) woven and PP non-woven bags need an equivalent number of reuses to equal the thin plastic bag ranging from 16 to 98 times and 11 to 59 times, respectively, depending on the scenario and environmental indicator.
    • Cotton bags need over 100 to 2,900 uses depending on the impacts studied.
    • Paper bags have the highest impact of all bags.

The Quebec report concludes that "no alternative to banning plastic bags offers an environmental benefit...
In this context, banning [thin HDPE bags] would not be advantageous.


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Top 5 Reasons Not To Ban Plastic Bags

1. Plastic Bags Are Environmentally Friendly

Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) around the world show plastic shopping bags have a lighter environmental footprint than the alternatives.

2. Plastic Bags Are Recyclable

Almost 100% of all Canadians have access to recycling of plastics bags whether curbside or take back to retail.

3. Plastic Bags Are Reusable

Surveys show that most Canadians re-use their plastics bags at least 2 or more times for managing household, organic and pet waste to carrying other items and more.

4. Plastic Bags Are Made in Canada

90% of the plastic bags used by Canadian grocery stores are made locally. Most reusable bags are imported from China.

5. Plastic Bag Litter is not a problem in Canada

Extensive research demonstrates that plastic shopping bags represent less than 1% of all litter in Canada.