Jun 7 - Toronto Drops Plastic Bag Charge, Chooses Outright Ban

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It's another blow to the plastic industry. The largest city in Canada, with nearly 2.5 million people, is saying goodbye--and good riddance--to the plastic bag.

For the last few years, the City of Toronto has placed a 5 cent charge on plastic bags. Mayor Rob Ford was seeking to get rid of that charge, even though it has reportedly dropped plastic bag usage by as much as 50%.

At yesterday's council meeting, the mayor's motion to drop the bag charge was approved by council. But an unexpected motion to ban plastic bags starting in 2013 was introduced during the same discussion.

The motion was carried 27-17.

Councilor David Shiner, who introduced the motion and referred to plastic bags as "junk", used economic as well as environmental reasons for his decision.

"Less plastic use equals less plastic in the garbage, less litter in the street, and ultimately less cost to taxpayers."

Needless to say, both Mayor Ford and the plastics industry are opposed to the surprise decision by council.

Read an article.

See video footage with plastic industry reaction, claiming that 15,000 jobs will be impacted and that 90% of the bags are made in the Ontario area. They also cite over 80% reuse or recycling rate, and try to downplay plastic bag impacts by stating a .8% composition in the waste stream.

What they fail to say is whether or not the same jobs/companies in the Ontario area make other products that won't be banned--such as produce bags and film. In the US, plastic bags comprise as little as 5% of a company's production line.

And why did the plastics industry combine reuse and recycling rates? Probably because recycling rates are so low it would be embarassing to report it separately. The US plastic bag recycling rate is only 4%.

They also overlook the fact that "reuse" simply means one additional use to bag trash, pet feces, or dirty diapers before the plastic bags go to the landfill forever. Reusable bags, on the other hand, can be used multiple times.

Plastic bags have a disproportionate impact on our environment. Compact and lightweight, they can make up a smaller part of the waste and litter stream (US studies show up to 25%), but they never fully degrade. Instead plastic bags break down into smaller pieces that contaminate the environment.

Visit our Campaign to End Single-Use Plastic Bags page for more information on this issue.