Councillor wants plastic bag fee revamp
A city councilor wants a revamp of Toronto's five cent plastic bag fee system because he says it has become a cash grab for stores.
St. Paul's councillor Michael Walker says stores are making money off the fee because retailers are doing exactly what they used to -- selling the same plastic bags -- but now shoppers are the ones who have to pay for them.
"Well, that's a brand new revenue source," said Walker.
When city hall passed it, it was assumed that stores would offer a free alternative like paper bags or cardboard boxes.
Since the system began in June, some stores have pocketed the extra nickel, or have been selling reusable bags as the alternative for about a dollar each, but very few offer paper bags.
There is confusing language in the bylaw that says businesses who don't offer plastic bags need to provide alternatives.
This could be interpreted to mean that the fee applies to stores who don't offer plastic bags at all.
The bylaw states: "Persons carrying on a retail business...who do not offer or provide plastic retail shopping bags to customers shall offer or provide alternatives, such as cardboard boxes or paper bags, at no charge to the customer."
Walker says stores are getting more money because retailers had to pay for plastic bags, and now shoppers have to pay for it.
"Now they sock it to the consumer and they don't offer an alternative," he said.
He wants serious fines to stores that would break any updated law.
"Since it's a multi-million dollar cash cow for them, I think we should have at least five figure penalties for the first offence," he said.
But critics think that offering paper bags isn't an environmental solution because they still create waste.
"I don't think paper will be any different," says shopper Amanda Clements.
"I think people will still use it as garbage and I think it will still end up in the landfills."
- With a report frm CTV Toronto's Reshmi Nair