City of Toronto amends plans to remove minimum fee for reusable bags and an ‘ask-first’ policy for reusable cups - Retail Council of Canada
Ontario | Sustainability

City of Toronto amends plans to remove minimum fee for reusable bags and an ‘ask-first’ policy for reusable cups

Following the Toronto City Council meeting on December 15, 2023 regarding the Single-Use and Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy, City Council voted to amend the plan to remove the proposed minimum fee for reusable bags at Toronto checkouts. While not reflected in the vote, it was understood that discussions around a minimum fee for reusable bags may go back to Council for additional debate at some point in the future when there is further clarity on the outcome of the federal plastics court case – RCC will continue to monitor this item. The Reduction Strategy also proposed an ‘ask-first’ policy for reusable cups where businesses would be required to ask if customers brought their own cup prior to being served. The proposed plan on reusable cups was amended to remove the ‘ask-first’ policy, and Council clarified that cup lids were exempt from the ‘ask-first’ policy. Instead, businesses shall be required to post signs stating they accept reusable cups (this change will be included as part of staffs report back to Council in Q1 and will have to pass a vote at that time). RCC will continue to encourage flexibility and practicality in policies to consider aspects such as health and safety issues and providing options for self-serve stations to meet any ‘ask first’ requirements.

Requirements as of March 1, 2024, in Toronto:

With the passage of this bylaw, it means that all retailer and quick service restaurant (QSR) locations in the Municipality of Toronto (e.g., Toronto, Etobicoke, Scarborough) will have to ask each customer first before providing any single-use shopping bag (including paper bags) as of March 1st, 2024. While most retailers may already have a policy here (as bags are now traditionally linked to a higher cost to customers), some retailers and all QSRs will have to adapt their operating policies before March 1st, 2024. Enforcement for this bylaw will be complaints-based.

For QSR members, there are additional ‘ask first’ provisions for all single-use accessory food items other than cups and lids (e.g., utensils, straws, stir sticks, spill plugs, napkins (serviettes), condiment packets, and cup trays) as of March 1st, 2024. Further, there is a requirement that you accept reusable containers as of March 1st, 2024.

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