Retailers frustrated with City of Toronto’s plastic shopping bag implementation date
Nov. 20, 2012 (Toronto) – Retailers are deeply frustrated with the City of Toronto’s refusal to delay the date of the implementation of the plastic shopping bag ban and allow retailers a reasonable frame of time to develop and apply customer-friendly and bylaw appropriate options.
“Retailers are in an impossible situation created by the city’s delays in finalizing the bylaw and refusal to delay the January 1st implementation,” said Dave Wilkes, Sr. Vice President at the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). “Consumers are expecting that there will be no single use plastic shopping bags available as of January 1, yet retailers have been left with no time to replace them or guidance as to what they can offer instead.”
The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee approved the draft bylaw last week. The draft includes an implementation date of January 1st. Retail Council of Canada representative Gary Rygus asked council for a nine to 12 month delay in order for retailers to make business adjustments and to educate the public. The committee refused.
The bylaw goes before council on November 27 and 28.
“Retailers’ current bag inventories have continued to diminish and they have not known what to replace them with because there has been no guidance,” said Wilkes. “The final decision will now be made one month prior to launch, during the holiday season, which is their busiest time of the year.”
He noted that retailers have told Council that it takes time to find new products and suppliers, especially when the quantities needed are enormous and all the retailers will be fighting over limited suppliers. As well, retailers need time to reconfigure check-out counters and train staff.
Wilkes noted that retailers have also asked City Council to address two other critical considerations or risk causing significant confusion when the ban comes into effect on January 1: a reasonable enforcement strategy and, a harmonized approach with a sole definition of a single use plastic bag which applies to everyone.
“While we have always believed the bylaw that required retailers to charge five cents for a bag struck an important balance between reducing plastic bags going to landfill and providing consumers with choice, we are not opposing the new bylaw,” said Wilkes.
“Having said that, Council must understand that a change of this magnitude requires planning and preparation if it is to be effective and not have a negative impact on an industry that employs more than 250,000 people in Toronto.”
Retail Council of Canada (www.retailcouncil.org) is the Voice of Retail. Founded in 1963, RCC is a not-for-profit association which represents more than 45,000 stores of all retail formats, including department, grocery, independent merchants, regional and national specialty chains, and online merchants.
For more information contact:
VP Communications and Marketing, RCC
416 922-0553 ext. 228
416 574-2552 (Mobile)