Plastic Bag Fees

What happens to the money collected from the new Toronto plastic bag fee?

Retailers in the city of Toronto have to collect 5 cents for every plastic bag their customers use. I thought it was a form of tax, used to help with environmental issues. I was very surprised to learn that the retailers get to keep it.

Large retailers have said that a portion of the money is being invested in environmental initiatives, but none would disclose how much profit they have made from the fees, nor specify how much of that has been allocated to charitable purposes. One retailer says that they are not actively promoting what they are doing in terms of environmental issues, as they feel that may encourage some customers to buy bags on purpose.

There has been a 70 per cent reduction in plastic-bag use since the rule came into effect. At one major grocery store, that translates into 3.8 million less bags per week. This is the kind of news we want to hear, no matter who gets the money.

For more details on this story, read Noor Javed’s article at the Toronto Star website.

p.s. Go to the original article at The Star’s site and read the comments. I cannot believe all the negativity. (but maybe you will agree with them, rather than moi)

For example. There is the argument that since I use those plastic bags for household garbage, this fee is just moving me from a 5 cent grocery store bag to a 4 cent plastic garbage bag made for the purpose. Yes, but only partially. I would estimate that I was using less than 1/2 of my grocery store bags for garbages in my home. What happens to the unused plastic bags? I threw them out as is. More landfill.

Then there is the lady who complained and said she refuses to shop big corporate grocery stores. What does this plastic bag thing have to do with that? They have to charge 5 cents as well. To quote her, “Yet another success story. I stopped shopping at the big retail grocery stores just for this reason, I have not been back since. If I’m going to pay for a bag I want a discount on the product.” Can someone explain her logic to me vis-a-vis the 5 cent fee?

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