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June 1, 2009
Toronto's new plastic retail shopping bag bylaw now in effect
In support of Toronto’s goal to achieve 70 per cent waste diversion from landfill, to reduce the volume of plastic bags and to encourage the use of reusable bags/bins, retailers in the City of Toronto are required to charge a minimum of five cents per plastic shopping bag requested by the customer at checkout as of today, June 1. These requirements are covered under the City’s new Municipal Code Chapter 604, Packaging bylaw, approved by Toronto City Council at its March 31, 2009 meeting. The bylaw states:

• Retailers must charge a minimum of five cents for each plastic retail shopping bag requested by the customer to carry out their purchases or if plastic retail shopping bags are not offered, retailers must provide a free alternative (i.e., paper bag, cardboard box).

• Prominent signs must be posted at checkout to let customers know about the City’s requirement to charge customers at the point-of-sale for each plastic retail shopping bag requested.

• The plastic retail shopping bag charge, detailing the number of bags used by the customer and the total amount charged, must be recorded on the receipt (if one is issued).

• Retailers must accept the use of any reusable containers (i.e., cloth bags, bins, boxes) brought in by customers to transport their purchases, in lieu of plastic retail shopping bags.

Staff assigned to the City’s Municipal Licensing and Standards division are responsible for enforcing this bylaw, which will include an education component. Retailers are entitled to keep the fee - the money is not remitted to the City of Toronto. While the City cannot stipulate what retailers should do with this money, the City supports reinvesting the funds in local environmental or community-based initiatives.

The City of Toronto has produced official signs regarding the plastic shopping bag charge in three different formats: postcard, sticker and poster. They are available free-of-charge to retailers at City civic centres. Downloadable, print-quality files of these official City signs are available, along with more detailed information, on Toronto’s website at

Currently, plastic film shopping bags are recyclable in Toronto. Residents are asked to recycle these bags when no longer usable (remove receipts, stuff all bags into one tied plastic bag and put them in the Blue Bin/recycling collection container). A section of the bylaw that becomes effective June 1, 2010, states retailers will be prohibited from offering or providing to customers plastic bags that are incompatible with Toronto’s recycling program (e.g., biodegradable plastic bags, compostable plastic bags or plastic bags with metal detailing or grommets, rope or hard plastic handles).

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact: Vince Sferrazza, Director, Waste Diversion and Planning, Solid Waste Management Services, 416-392-9095,



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