Canadian Plastics

Toronto proposes five cent plastic bag fee

As part of a newly proposed deal between the City of Toronto and Canada's biggest grocery chains, the city will imp...

December 1, 2008   Canadian Plastics

As part of a newly proposed deal between the City of Toronto and Canada’s biggest grocery chains, the city will impose a five cent fee on plastic bags at food stores next year.

The country’s two largest grocery chains, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. and Sobeys, have agreed to start charging a small fee for plastic bags starting in June 2009. The measure still needs to be approved by city council, and will be part of the city’s proposed bylaw on waste reduction.

“The idea proposed by the grocers, which I support and will be moving at city council in the form of an amendment, will call for a minimum charge of five cents per plastic bag beginning next June,” said Toronto mayor David Miller at a press conference announcing the new measure last week.

Additionally, just two days after this joint announcement, Loblaw announced that it would no longer provide complimentary plastic shopping bags at the check out at all of its corporate and participating franchise stores nationally, effective April 22, 2009.

Instead of only charging customers in the Toronto area, Loblaw will introduce the five cent fee across the nation.

“We believe this important move will inspire and help Canadians to more fully embrace reusable bag practices and respond to Canadians’ desire to support environmental initiatives,” said Loblaw executive chairman Galen Weston.

The city’s five-cent fee proposal is an amendment to the city’s original recommendation that would have required all retailers to provide a 10 cent discount or rebate for each single-use bag not used by the customer. The original 10-cent plan was roundly criticized by industry, and protested by smaller grocers.

“Asking retailers alone to shoulder the costs of trying to reduce the amount of plastic bags is punitive and makes no sense,” said Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) president and CEO John Scott on Nov. 24, two days before the new five-cent plan was introduced.

The five-cent alternative will now be tabled at the city council meeting by Mayor Miller on December 2, 2008.


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