File photo                                Communities Protecting Our Coast has asked the Town of Qualicum Beach to ban the use of plastic bags in its municipality.

File photo Communities Protecting Our Coast has asked the Town of Qualicum Beach to ban the use of plastic bags in its municipality.

Qualicum Beach asked to sack plastic bags

Volunteers survey area shoppers on their use of plastic bags

Communities Protetcting Our Coast is asking the Town of Qualicum Beach to ban plastic shopping bags.

Lois Eaton of CPOC presented to council at the July 17 meeting about their findings on a community survey. The survey involved four CPOC members standing outside three local grocery stores — one in Qualicum Beach and two in Parksville — to observe the shopping habits of residents.

Eaton didn’t specify which stores were observed.

“The size of these samples, we believe, are significant and reflect our reality,” Eaton said.

In Qualicum Beach, Eaton said the CPOC members surveyed 910 customers at the large grocery store in town. More than half of the shoppers — 55 per cent — used the store’s plastic bags, less than 20 per cent used paper, less than 20 per cent used their own bag and only a few people carried their merchandise in their hands.

At the first Parksville store, which has a policy of banning plastic bags entirely, Eaton said the volunteers had a customer sample size of 327 shoppers. Sixty-four per cent of shoppers brought their own bag and 12 per cent asked for a paper bag.

At the second Parksville store, which has a policy of charging for plastic bags, Eaton said the sample size was 210 people. Of those people, 49 per cent brought their own bag, 40 per cent used plastic bags and 11 per cent of people carried the products out in their hands.

Coun. Anne Skipsey asked if there was much push back from customers at the store that charges for plastic bags.

Eaton said the store was hoping the charge for bags would make a difference, which it did. There was initially a bit of push back from the customers, but they have come back to shop since.

The next regular council meeting is Aug. 21 at 7 p.m.