Toronto City Council has decided not to proceed with a contentious ban on single-use plastic bags that was due to take effect on Jan. 1.
City councillors received confidential legal advice from a solicitor before voting 38-7 on Nov. 28 not to proceed with the ban.
After the latest move, there are no official restrictions whatever on bags.
Toronto previously had a mandatory five-cent fee that retailers were required to charge customers for each plastic bag they were given. At the behest of Mayor Rob Ford, council earlier this year scrapped the mandatory five-cent bag fee introduced in 2009 – and in a surprise move adopted a motion to ban plastic bags outright as of Jan. 1, 2013.
The bag industry cried foul, noting the surprise vote meant they had not been consulted, and as a result, the city had been hit with a pair of legal challenges over the proposed bag ban in recent weeks, one from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association and the other from the Canadian Plastic Bag Association.
“We are pleased that council made the responsible decision to not proceed with the by-law,” said Marion Axmith, director general of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.
Torontonians are estimated to use 215 million plastic bags each year, which amounts to some 1,400 tonnes of plastic.