The City of Victoria has released a draft bylaw that, effective July 1, 2018, would:
- ban the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags, except for a list of exemptions that includes packaging containing loose bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, frozen foods, meat, poultry, fish, bakery items, prescription drugs, nails, bolts, flowers and potted plants;
- requires businesses to charge a minimum of 12 cents per eligible single-use paper shopping bag (containing at least 40% post-consumer recycled paper content);
- requires businesses to charge a minimum of $2 per eligible reusable bag (a bag with handles that is: (a) made of cloth or other machine-washable fabric; and, (b) has a minimum lifetime capacity of 125 or more uses carrying 10 kilograms over a distance of at least 50 metres;
- the customer must be first asked whether they need a bag; and
- prescribes fines of $100 for failing to ask a customer whether they need a bag, charging less than the required fee, providing an ineligible bag, or denying or discouraging the use of the customer’s own bag.
RCC has attended several consultation meetings organized by the City of Victoria that were dominated by the Surfrider Foundation (which is working to reduce the volume of plastic in our natural environment). RCC immediately wrote a letter to the Mayor and Council asking that several provisions of the bylaw be altered (including the bag definitions, fines for front-line retail employees, and the minimum bag fees).
There are 12 other municipalities within the Capital Regional District (Greater Victoria). The District of Saanich has already indicated it may consider a shopping bag bylaw.
RCC will continue to meet with Victoria staff and keep abreast of the issue. The bylaw will be considered by Victoria Council on December 14, 2017.