Canadian Plastics

Toronto to consider using plastic bag tax to restore trees

A Toronto councillor is advocating a plan to ask major retailers to donate a portion of the city’s estimated $5.4 million in plastic bag fees collected each year to restoring trees.

May 6, 2012   Canadian Plastics

A Toronto councillor is advocating a plan to ask major retailers to donate a portion of the city’s estimated $5.4 million in plastic bag fees collected each year to restoring trees.

As reported by the national press, Councillor Michelle Berardinetti has been championing a strategy to urge retailers to donate the fee back to the city for its tree canopy. The city faces a major challenge replacing its aging stock of trees, a situation that will be made worse by the destruction caused by the emerald ash borer. Replacing trees attacked by the insect is expected to cost the city $10 million per year over the next six years.

But the idea flies in the face of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s plan to scrap the bag fee. Ford repeatedly has promised to kill the five-cent charge the city imposed on plastic bags under former Mayor David Miller. According to news reports, Ford has not given any indication yet whether he will support the new plan.

While a city bylaw requires merchants to charge a nickel as a way to discourage the use of plastic bags, money collected from the fee remains with retailers. Under the staff proposal, the city’s Office of Partnerships and the Parks, Forestry and Recreation department would ask retailers to donate to a new fund. Merchants could claim a charitable donation and could display a notice to indicate their participation in helping the city’s trees.

The executive committee is set to consider the report at its next meeting on May 14, news reports say.


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