Toronto may soon implement a minimum fee for reusable bags at checkouts as part of a waste reduction strategy.
The city’s infrastructure and environmental committee are recommending a plan that would require retail businesses to charge customers a minimum fee for each reusable bag, with the fee increasing a year later to align with waste reduction goals.
Councilor Jennifer McKelvie, chair of the committee, emphasized the importance of assigning value to reusable items to discourage their disposal. She expressed confidence in the strategy’s success, noting early adoption even before formal approval.
If approved, businesses must comply by March 1, 2024, and start charging a minimum of $1 per reusable bag by May 1, 2024, with the fee increasing to $2 the following year.
However, not everyone supports the proposed strategy. It is, after all, just another way to impose an environmental fee to its already struggling citizens.
Michelle Wasylyshen, the national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, raised concerns about the substantial price increase, especially amid inflationary pressures. Wasylyshen urged caution and called for further clarification on the definition of a reusable shopping bag, citing the example of British Columbia’s regulation that specifies a reusable bag as one designed to be machine-washed at least 100 times.
She emphasized the need for ongoing dialogue between industry and government to address such concerns. The plan is scheduled to go before the city council on December 13 for consideration.
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