Victoria becomes first city in BC to ban plastic bags

Jan 15 2018, 5:22 pm

The City of Victoria has officially become the first city in BC to ban retailers from providing free plastic bags to customers.

Known as the Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw, the new rules are set to take effect on July 1 of this year, with regular enforcement of the bylaw to commence in January 2019.

In a statement, the City said it plans to launch a “multi-faceted awareness campaign following the adoption of the bylaw to prepare businesses, residents, and tourist for the regulation and to help transition from plastic to reusable bags.”

As well, the City said it will work with local businesses to develop a “Business Toolkit,” with resources for communicating with employees and customers about the new bylaw.

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Victoria city councillor Jeremy Loveday celebrated the city’s decision on Twitter.

The City said the bylaw is meant to “regulate the business use of single use checkout bags to reduce the creation of waste and associated municipal costs.”

The bylaw applies to any bag “intended to be used by a customer for the purpose of transporting items.”

The bylaw states that “no business shall provide a checkout bag” to a
customer, except when:

  • the customer is first asked whether he or she needs a bag
  • the bag provided is a paper bag or a reusable bag
  • the customer is charged a fee not less than $0.15/bag and $1 per Reusable Bag

In addition, businesses are no longer allowed to sell or provide to a customer a plastic bag  free of charge, “or discourage the use by a customer of his or her own
reusable bag.”

There are some small exceptions, though. The ban does not apply to:

  • bags used to package loose bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, or candy
  • bags used to carry small hardware items such as nails and bolts
  • contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, poultry, or fish
  • bags used to wrap flowers or potted plants
  • protect prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged
  • contain prescription drugs received from a pharmacy
  • bags used to transport live fish.

Fines for violating the bylaw would range from $100 to $10,000 for corporations, and between $50 to $500 for individuals.

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Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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