105 Million Plastic Bags to Go

In 2008, City Council introduced a 5cent bag fee and set a goal of a 70% reduction of plastic bags in Toronto.

Since then

  • bag usage has declined by 53%, from 457 million to 215 million bags annually
  • major retailers are donating some of the net proceeds to environmental causes and
  • a culture of renewable bag usage has been widely adopted
"Reducing use of plastic bags is good for the environment," said City Councillor Paula Fletcher.  "It takes a tremendous amount of petroleum to produce plastic bags. According to Green Footprints, the same amount of petroleum energy is used to make 9 plastic bags as to drive 1 km in a car."

"It would be a big step backwards for Toronto Council to give up on the goal of 70% reduction in plastic bags in our City. Falling short of the target by 105 million bags should not be considered a success," said Fletcher.

Plastic bags are also of great concern for their negative effect on animals.

Sea turtles, whales and dolphins eat plastic bags after mistaking them for jelly fish and then they choke or starve," said Liz White of Animal Alliance. "The more we can do to reduce plastic bags, the better it is for all animals.

At City Council on June 6, Councillors will be asked to vote between the recommendation from the Executive Committee to scrap the current bag fee and the original recommendation from the City Manager to continue the bag fee and ask major retailers to donate its proceeds to the city's tree canopy which is being devastated by the emerald ash borer.

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