Toronto Bans Plastic Bags – Much To The Mayor’s Surprise

It’s tough being Rob Ford these days.

This week, the beleaguered Toronto Mayor went before council to try to nix the bylaw that requires stores to charge 5 cents for plastic shopping bags. What he wasn’t expecting was that by bringing the motion forward,  he opened the door for another Councillor to move that Toronto ban plastic bags from retailers entirely – and to Ford’s utter disbelief, that motion passed. As a result, Toronto will officially outlaw plastic bags entirely – even those which claim to be compostable, biodegradable, photodegradable or otherwise environmentally friendly – from January 1 of next year.

In something of a Pyrrhic victory, Ford did manage to get the 5 cent fee nixed, meaning retailers can hand out plastic bags to their heart’s content for the remainder of 2012. But after that, it’s non-plastic bags or no bags at all.

Toronto wouldn’t be the first city to outlaw plastic bags. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the entire state of South Australia have banned them, with the world remarkably not coming to an end and people in those areas still able to shop.

The surprise move was not exactly well planned in advance. There was no consultation with public or environmental groups on what the move could mean. Predictably, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association slammed the move, saying that “bags are not an environmental problem” (um, what?) and that there will be “no winners”, not even the environment.

The move left Mayor Ford embarrassed and typically bombastic. “It’s the dumbest thing council has done and council has done some dumb things let me tell you,” Ford told a morning radio station, declaring the ban would hurt taxpayers and the city’s economy and would probably get the city sued.

Or it could make Toronto a leader in environmental causes. Too early to tell.

With between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags consumed and discarded annually worldwide, directly killing wildlife, consuming petroleum and leaching petrochemicals in to the soil as they slowly decompose, and with the average plastic bag actually being used for mere minutes before it’s tossed, they are  a true hallmark of our disposable culture, and one that is easily phased out of everyday life with minor lifestyle changes.


Related Stories:

Los Angeles Says No To Plastic Bags

Hawaii Now Has Statewide Plastic Bag Ban…With Significant Loopholes

Plastic Bags a Bigger Threat to India’s Future Than Nuclear Weapons

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Magdalena J.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you!

Prentise W.
pre,tpse w5 years ago

Now that plastic shopping bags have been banned in my community, people are putting the dog poop they clean up responsibly in much larger trash bags, therefore using more plastic. However, there are no longer fences and bushes full of snagged plastic bags from Wal Mart and other stores. People who used to use grocery bags for their trash now have to buy trash bags, which are always plastic, so I don't know if the overall reduction of plastic is really very much. There are pros and cons to every decision, it seems.

Samantha Christopher
Samantha C5 years ago

I laughed. Mayor Ford wanting to remove the $.05 fee on plastic bags was wrong. However, to have a Councillor motion to have plastic bags banned and to get it through was just poetic justice. Wonderful! T.O. should be proud!

Cynthia H.
Cynthia H.5 years ago

For dog doo, use leaves or paper to pick up, transfer to a container, then dump into toilet or compost. Like they did in Shakespeare's day.

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley5 years ago

Good news.

Susan O.
Susan O5 years ago

And, how do people who want to ban plastic bags propose that we pick up dog waste when walking the dog ... with our hands? Or, how about emptying the litter box into your shoes instead of into a plastic bag? What's next, a ban on plastic painting drop-cloths? And what about those pesky trash bags you put out on your curb ... oh, I know! Just pile up the loose trash on the parkway and let the city worry about it ...

Richard Lacroix
Richard Lacroix5 years ago

it would be great if the rest of Canada would do the same,the only problem is that we now go back to paper & killing innocent trees if we could now pass a law that paper bags be recyled one that they give out & the provencial ,municipal & Federal should give some kind of tax break or incentive to ALL & I mean all small & large buisness

Ernestine Mettan
Ernestine Mettan5 years ago

I hope the majority of Canadian cities will follow Toronto's shining example!

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Good news

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Good move in the right direction.