The District of Saanich is the largest municipality by population in Greater Victoria and has the largest number of retail stores. Saanich has moved forward and introduced a single-use plastic bag ban that, if the by-law passes in the current form, would be effective January 1, 2020. [The adjacent Township of Esquimalt also plans to introduce a plastic bag ban bylaw on January 21, 2019.]
Saanich has modelled their by-law on the very prescriptive City of Victoria by-law. The proposed by-law bans plastic bags at check-out (or for food take-out or delivery) except for bags used to: (a) package look bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, or candy; (b) package loose hardware items such as nails and bolts; (c) contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, poultry, or fish, whether pre-packaged or not; (d) wrap flowers or potted plants; (e) protect prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged; (f) contain prescription drugs received from a pharmacy; (g) transport live fish; (h) protect linens, bedding, or other similar large items that cannot easily fit in a reusable bag; (i) protect newspapers or other printed material intended to be left at the customer’s residents or place of business; or, (j) protect clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning.
The by-law does not limit or restrict the sale of bags intended for use at the customer’s home or business provided that they are sold in packages containing multiple bags.
A paper bag is defined as a bag that is: (a) made of paper; (b) contains at least 40% post-consumer recycled paper content; and, (c) displays on the outside of the bag, the words “Recyclable” and “made from 40% post-consumer recycled content” (or such greater proportion as is applicable) but does not include a small paper bag (defined as less than 15 centimetres by 20 centimetres when flat).
A reusable bag is defined as: (a) intended to be used by a customer for the purpose of transporting items purchased or received by the customer from the business providing the bag; (b) equipped with handles; (c) designed and manufactured to be capable of at least 100 uses; and; (d) made primarily of cloth or other washable fabric.
The by-law further specifies fees for: paper bags of 15 cents (rising to 25 cents on January 1, 2020) and reusable bags of $1 (rising to $2 on January 1, 2020).
The District of Saanich’s report indicates a consultation period in regard to the proposed by-law between January and April 2019. RCC will provide response to the District of Saanich: (a) to better inform the environmental impacts of the proposed by-law; (b) to highlight the complications for business operations of prescriptive requirements regarding paper and reusable bags and changing bag fees.
RCC maintains a list of single-use plastic item bylaws for member information.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Greg Wilson, Director, Government Relations (British Columbia) at [email protected] or 604-736-0368.