Single-use plastics ban not a concern for WCOL

A looming ban on some single-use plastics should not have an impact on the viability of petrochemical operation proposed for the Prince George area, say its chief proponent.

"I don't see this having a major impact on our project," West Coast Olefins Limited president and CEO Ken James said Wednesday in an email to the Citizen.

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"Single use plastics have their place (medical and food processing) but many application such as shopping bags are being phased out in most jurisdictions anyway.

"This is not a high margin product and the advantage of a new facility is that we can design for durable products that certainly have an important role in the economy."

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced Wednesday a list of six single-use plastic items that will be banned because they are both harmful to the environment and difficult to recycle.

Plastic straws, stir sticks, cutlery, six-pack rings, carry-out bags and Styrofam plates and takeout containers won't be allowed to be sold in Canada once the ban takes effect, likely by the end of 2021. Other single-use items will be managed by setting standards to encourage them to be reused or recycled.

To do all of that, Wilkinson said on Oct. 10 he will add "plastic manufactured items" to the "toxic substances list" under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Things on that list must then be managed to limit their release into the environment. In this case, that means banning some things, and setting standards to encourage recycling or reuse of others.

The step has been met with stiff opposition from industry.

Elena Mantagaris, the vice-president of the plastics division at the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, said the industry isn't in favour of bans at all, but would rather work with the government so plastics are continually recycled and never end up in the environment. But she said the government's words on that front have not been backed up with any kind of funding or real plan.

Meanwhile, WCOL is continuing to look for a home for the complex.

The company initially had a 300-acre site in the BCR Industrial Site in its sights, but after public concerns about air quality were raised the company announced in June it will look locate north of the city instead.

Two spots near Summit Lake and two near Bear Lake have been raised as possibilities.

James remained tight lipped Wednesday regarding the search.

"We are in some sensitive negotiations with respect to our project so not much I can say at this time," he said. "We are advancing the project and hope to make a formal announcement before Christmas."

- with files from The Canadian Press

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