Grocery retailers start charging 5 cents a bag as of June 1
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Dec 2/08 for Town Crier.)
A key city council plan to reduce is now in the bag.
The new policy, passed Dec. 2, requires retailers and grocers to charge a nickel for each plasticbag they give out starting this summer.
Some retailers already sell alternatives to plastic bags, including reusable cloth bags,plastic grocery bins with handles, and metal and cloth shopping carts.
Beacher Karen Buck says the new policy is a good start.
“It may not be a strong enough disincentive,” she said, adding she’d like to see retailers charge 20 cents per plastic bag and offer a 10-cent rebate for every reusable bag used.
“For the past 18 years, I’ve been using reusable bags,” Buck said Dec. 8. “I’ve been subsidizing the other people using plastic bags.”
Her tipping point came in 1990.
“I was still using plastic bags for my garbage but they’d accumulate quicker than I could use them,” she said.
Now Buck and her husband, who only throw out enough garbage to fill the city’s smallest garbage bin three times a year, toss waste loosely into the bin.
|Other shoppers are also onside with the bag fee.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Bronwyn Loucks while grocery shopping at Metro supermarket at Spadina Rd. and Bloor St.
Though retailers will get to keep funds generated from the plastic bag fee, council has recommended they donate some of the proceeds to eco-friendly initiatives.
Loucks isn’t waiting until the new bylaw kicks in June 1. She already avoids plastic bags whenever she can.
“I think it’s easier to carry (groceries) if it’s in your backpack,” she said. “The bags fall apart too easily.”
The city’s aim is to keep the 457-million plastic retail and grocery bags Torontonians use annually out of landfills.
James Zhang, who runs Jug Town convenience store on St. Clair Ave. West near Christie St., says the policy makes good sense.
“For the environment, it’s a good policy,” he said.
Starting Dec. 8, residents can recycle plastic bags in their blue bins.
Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher says the Food Basics store she shops at already charges five cents per plastic bag. As a result, only 20 percent pay for bags while the rest use free cardboard containers or bring reusable bags, she said.
But not everyone is buying it.
Eglinton-Lawrence councillor Karen Stintz voted against the five-cent bag policy.
“Our council has accepted plastic bags into our recycling stream,” she said. “We should have allowed time to evaluate the success of that first.
“The fee should have been voluntary, not mandatory, because city council has no jurisdiction to set the price of goods.”
City staff had originally proposed requiring retailers to rebate customers 10 cents for every plastic bag not used. Days after a staff report was discussed at a works committee meeting, retailer Loblaws brought the five-cent (plus sales tax) bag proposal to Mayor David Miller.
“Highland Farms, Sobeys, Loblaws, Metro are all on board,” Miller said during a council debate.
“This will become the industry standard.”
Loblaws announced plans to start charging 5 cents per bag on Jan. 12, five months earlier than the city’s deadline.