A group of university students in Fredericton has a lofty goal: they want to ban plastic shopping bags across the province.

To kick off their campaign, they're asking New Brunswickers to sign a petition.

“Anything that we can do to eliminate some of the plastic use, I think, is a good thing,” said Sandra Sheridan of Moncton.

The idea is to get consumers to bring their own reusable bags in hopes of eliminating some of the plastic that ends up in landfills, on city streets and in waterways such as the Petitcodiac River.

“I started touching the river bottom and I realized that it was all plastic bags that had collected there, for I don't know how many years,” said Lindsay Gauvin of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance.“But there was enough of them that it created a continuous sheet of plastic on the river bottom.”

Gauvin says all that plastic can put animals in harm’s way.

“If the plastic bags are on the bottom of the stream, fish species won't be able to lay eggs anymore,” said Gauvin. “They need the river bottom to properly lay their eggs. Also, wildlife can be entangled in them.”

The Retail Council of Canada says they’re not opposed to the ban, but they have “preferred options.”

“The most preferred is for governments to look at what’s already happened years ago in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba,” said Jim Cormier, the Atlantic Director of the Retail Council of Canada. “They put out stuff saying ‘you must meet certain reduction targets by such and such dates,’ and then leave it up to retailers to figure out what works best for their business to do that.”

The petition has only been out for about two weeks andnearly 300 NewBrunswickers have signed it so far. They're hoping to present this to the government after the provincial election in the fall.

If the ban is implemented, Cormier says it’s important that it stays the same across the board.

“If you had the city of Dieppe deciding to ban bags, shoppers can be very fickle and you don't want to have a situation where you’re putting retailer against retailer,” Cormier said.

According to those behind the petition, their goal is to see shoppers using something other than a plastic bags, although, they will make exceptions for garbage bags, doggie bags, and others.

Ifthe ban gains enough traction, and is implemented, it's possible both paper bags and reusable bags would be sold to consumers who forget to bring their own. Those behind this petition are suggesting a price of 15 cents for paper bags, and up to a $1 for plastic reusable bags.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker.