British Columbia | Food & Grocery | Store Operations | Sustainability

Saanich moves ahead with single-use plastic bag ban

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).

View full report and by-law.

Next Steps

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 gwilson@retailcouncil.org or 604-736-0368.

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