A motion being brought to city council Monday to phase out plastic bags in Calgary is being met with mixed responses from retailers and consumers.

The biggest problem some retailers see is getting consumers to change their habits.

“People like the flexibility of plastic bags,” said John Radostits, a member of the Independent Retail Grocers Association. “Many use them as garbage bags, and would be upset that their free garbage bags would be eliminated.”

Another problem Radostits sees is higher prices for consumers resulting from a higher cost for paper or recyclable bags that retailers would have to pay. Either that, or consumers will be paying per bag, which some environmentalists say is not a bad thing.

“It’s absolutely critical that there’s a price put onto bags,” said Natalie Odd, executive director of Clean Calgary. “Then people will adapt very quickly to bringing their own bags.”

Grocery stores like Sobeys have already taken the initiative to encourage customers to use recyclable bags. Their goal is to reduce the use of plastic bags by 50 per cent in the next couple of years.

“If the city of Calgary were to ban the use of plastic bags, we would support that,” said Sobeys representative Michael Lupien. “But we’re still wanting to offer our customers choice. People appreciate the convenience of plastic bags, and they will often reuse them again in our store.”

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