Solid Waste & Recycling Magazine


Toronto dumps bag ban in wake of lawsuits

After more than a year of widely-covered controversy over Toronto’s plastic bag ban, city council quietly changed its course after receiving legal advice and voted against the pending bylaw.

After more than a year of widely-covered controversy over Toronto’s plastic bag ban, city council quietly changed its course after receiving legal advice and voted against the pending bylaw.

Toronto city councillors voted 38-7 on November 28, 2012 to stop the bag ban in its tracks. The reversal came after the Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) launched a November 19, 2012 lawsuit against the City of Toronto over the bag ban, which had been set to take effect January 1, 2013.

That news marked the second bag ban lawsuit against Toronto in November 2012. The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) launched the first lawsuit against the city on November 15, 2012.

Toronto retailers were previously required to charge customers a mandatory five-cent fee for each plastic bag, but an attempt to abolish the bag tax earlier in 2012 led to renewed council support in favour of banning the bags altogether.

Torontonians use an estimated 215 million plastic bags each year, which amounts to some 1,400 tonnes of plastic, a City of Toronto report found.

In a news release issued before the city reversed its position, the CPBA outlined its legal filing against the city. It noted that the ban would be a hard hit to the pockets of its membership. It also said that the “council has not received any advice, evidence, or opinion from [CPBA] staff or any other person indicating that banning single-use plastic carry-out (shopping) bags would further the economic, social, and/or environmental well being of [Toronto] or would protect the health, safety and well-being of any person.”

Joe Hruska of the CPBA in a written statement on November 19, 2012 that “As Toronto City Council gave no notice, undertook no public consultation, carried out no due diligence, and received no advice prior to adopting the Plastic Bag Ban, the bag ban resolution ought to be quashed for having been passed in bad faith,” said Not all retailers would have been under the bag ban. Plastic bags would still have been allowed to be used for bulk and frozen food items; meat and fish; flowers; potted plants; baked goods; prepared foods; prescription drugs; dry cleaning; and newspapers.

“Without exception, members of OCSA rely on plastic bags to provide a safe, sanitary and convenient shopping experience to their customers,” wrote the OCSA in its November 2012 suit against the City of Toronto.

City council intends to revisit the bag ban issue in June 2013.

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2 Comments » for Toronto dumps bag ban in wake of lawsuits
  1. Dr says:

    This is a sad day for the people of Toronto to have their environment and their wild life jepordised for the sake of a few bag manufacturers. Manufacturers who make a product that we do not need.
    We need to look at the real consequence of plastic bags and then either go back to charging for them, which lets people choose if they want a bag or not, or just ban them and people will move on to reusable bags. it is simple and does not need to be complicated by money hungry manufacturers who care less about their surronds and its people than they do for their pocket book.
    A sad day indeed for Toronto.
    Perhaps sanity will return when the mayor gets voted out and a mayor with intouch with the people will get elected.

  2. Anne says:

    These bags do not have to go to landfill Recycle them as the do up north. The article was in this website not too long ago explaining the whole process. Use technology to solve a problem not just ban something without looking a very viable options. The recycle method they use up north that the Japanese man invented is tested and works fine. Even makes it cheaper for the recycler as they make use of what they recycle. Win win for everyone. Get your blinders off and embrace technology

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