Toronto city council passes measure prohibiting retailers from handing out plastic bags / Law to go into effect in January 2013 / Plastics industry shocked, considering all available options
Come 1 January 2013, shoppers in Canada’s largest city Toronto will have to make sure they bring their own bags or boxes to the checkout counter, following a surprise decision by the city council in early June. The agenda had originally called for a vote to get rid of the five-cent plastic bag fee but city councillors surprised both public and industry when on 6 June they passed a complete ban on plastic bags, with 27 in favour and 17 against. The ordinance is due to go into effect on 1 January 2013.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA, Mississauga, Ontario; expressed shock at the vote, saying it would look into all options available – including an investigation into the ban’s legality – to prevent the measure from taking effect. “As it stands now, this is a lose/lose decision,” said CPIA president Carol Hochu, pointing out that not only do citizens have to make do without an option to carry their groceries back home, but the fact that the plastics industry, too, is losing a source of income, which will necessarily impact jobs and investment. Hochu added that far from being a benefit to the environment, the ban would lead to more paper packaging in Toronto’s waste stream.

The ban also applies to bags advertised as compostable, biodegradable or photodegradable, local news sources said, adding that Toronto is the largest municipality in North America to take such a step. Earlier this year, Los Angeles voted to phase out the use of single-use plastic carrier bags – see of 05.06.2012.

Ahead of the ban, city councillors also voted to scrap the city’s existing five cent levy, a move that went into effect on 1 July 2012. The measure means retailers can now hand out plastic bags to their customers free of charge – at least until the ban comes into effect. However, all bags handed out over the course of the coming months still have to be compatible with the city’s existing recycling programme.
29.08.2012 [223216-0]
Published on 29.08.2012

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