Toronto Approves 5-Cent Fee on Plastic Bags
2008-12-03 16:26:22 UTC
>From the Toronto Star - www.thestar.com
Toronto approves 5-cent fee on bags
Bottled water sales at city facilities banned
Dec 03, 2008 04:30 AM
John Spears City Hall Bureau
Toronto shoppers will start paying 5 cents for throwaway plastic shopping bags starting June 1, Toronto council has confirmed. And despite a determined industry lobby to block the measure, councillors voted to ban the sale or distribution of bottled water immediately at City Hall and civic centres, where contracts permit, and by 2011 at other city-owned facilities such as arenas and theatres. The final vote: 30 in favour of the bag and bottle measures, 13 against. Retailers will be required to accept reusable bags or containers from shoppers starting next June. Mayor David Miller said "free" shopping bags come at a cost. "There's a cost to the city and the people of Toronto in disposing of them, there's a cost to the environment and there's a cost to the retailers," he said after the vote. Canada's biggest grocery companies had negotiated the 5-cent bag fee with the city beforehand. But bottled water companies lobbied councillors hard throughout the meeting. Councillor Mark Grimes shuttled between water lobbyists in the public gallery and councillors on the chamber floor, trying to sell a compromise deal that ultimately failed. Miller defended the move, arguing that the city produces its own high-quality water. "I don't believe as Canada's largest purveyor of tap water we should be selling water in our facilities," he said. He said the city had asked the industry for ideas on reducing packaging a year ago and met a wall of resistance. "We asked for data, we asked for partnership, we asked for ideas. And it wasn't until our staff brought forward a comprehensive report that we saw any movement." Councillors also voted to force takeout restaurants to develop recyclable food containers. Some councillors argued the new rules go too far. Councillor Karen Stintz argued for a voluntary bag fee, saying a compulsory one is unnecessary because the city will accept plastic bags in its recycling program starting next week. But Councillor Howard Moscoe said voluntary fees would be useless. Councillor David Shiner said banning water in city-owned theatres like the Sony Centre will hurt their revenue, and workers will likely have to give away tap water in plastic cups.
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