1 Why the City is working towards restricting single-use checkout bags? 1. Why is reducing the amount of plastic bags important? Victoria residents each use approximately 200 bags every year, which would equate to 17 million plastic bags from city residents, alone. Plastic bags are made from a limited supply of non-renewable petroleum sources, which contribute to greenhouse gases, air quality issues, natural resource depletion, and chemical, waste and litter accumulation. People may use them only once, yet they remain in the environment for more than a human lifetime. Plastic bags are on the Top 10 list of garbage littering the world s beaches Stopping waste before it enters our management systems will help City staff reduce operating costs and increase service levels to enhance the quality of life and experience for all Victoria residents and visitors. 2. Why is the City developing a new bylaw to reduce single-use checkout bags? The purpose of the draft Bylaw is to reduce the volume of plastic bag waste entering our landfill, our waste collection systems, and littering our community. This bylaw aims to reduce single-use plastic bags that quickly become waste after only a few uses. What s proposed in the draft bylaw? 1. What types of businesses are covered by the new bylaw? All businesses operating within the City of Victoria. 2. What types of checkout bags are permitted under the draft Bylaw? Businesses may provide a checkout bag to customers only if: The customer is first asked whether they need a bag. The business provides a paper or reusable bag at a cost. 3. Under the terms of the draft Bylaw, will businesses be able to provide customers with plastic checkout bags? The draft Bylaw states that businesses are not allowed to sell or provide customers with a plastic bag nor can they provide a single-use checkout bag to a customer free of charge.
2 4. Are paper bags required to have handles to be considered a checkout bag? Paper bags are not required to have handles, but retailers may wish to consider bags with handles to improve bag convenience and performance. 5. Can a business gift a reusable bag? No. Under the terms of the Bylaw, gifting a new reusable bags is not permitted. Businesses can offer a discount or rebate to customers as they see fit, but the bag fee should be clearly visible on the transaction and bill. A business can only give a reusable bag away for free if it has already been used. This means that businesses can develop programs to take back surplus reusable bags and provide clean reusable bags free to those in need. 6. When is the draft Bylaw proposed to take effect? The proposed regulation would come into effect no earlier than July 1 st, Can business use up their existing bag stock, even past the July 1, 2018 bylaw date? Yes. Businesses have until January 1, 2019 to use up all remaining bag stock, if purchased before December 14, Will businesses be permitted to sell plastic bags sold in packages? Yes. The draft Bylaw does not restrict the sale of bags intended for use at the customer s home or business (garbage bin liners, sandwich bags, compost liners, etc.). 9. Are there exceptions to this regulation that allow some single-use plastic bags to be permitted? The draft Bylaw includes a list of exceptions. Single-use plastic bags can be provided for: Loose bulk items (fruits, vegetables, nuts, bulk confectionery, prepared foods, meat, fish, baked goods, frozen food wraps, etc.) to the checkout for hygiene protection from direct contact with other items Wrap flowers or potted plants Plastic bag for prescription drugs received from a pharmacy Plastic bag to protect newspapers or other printed material intended to be left at a customer's residence or place of business Protect clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning Large items such as pillows, blankets and pet items that would not normally fit in a reusable bag. In many cases, these products have plastic covers and do not require a plastic checkout bag
3 10. What size paper bag can be provided by a business for free? A small paper bag is defined in the bylaw to less than 15x20 cm, when lying flat. 11. What are the minimum bag fees set by the bylaw? A fee no less than 15 cents per paper bag (rising to 25 cents after one year); and A minimum cost of $1 for reusable bags for the first year (rising to $2 after one year.) It is at the business owner s discretion if they choose to charge more than the set minimum amount. 12. How did the City determine the fees for bags? Fees were set to reflect the actual cost of producing a paper bag and reusable bag Fees are a proven mechanism to promote sustainable business and consumer habits, while avoiding overuse of any bag type. 13. How will the funds collected from the bag fees be used? The fee will be charged and collected by individual businesses. 14. Does the City mandate how the paper and reusable bag fees are used? Businesses allocate those monies as they see fit. The City would always promote that any additional revenues from this program be used to help improve sustainability programs, including packaging waste reduction initiatives. The City understands that these fees can help cover the costs associated with this new program. 15. What is the City doing to reduce plastic packaging and other single-use plastics? Plastics are precious. The City is working with stakeholders to develop a strategy and subsequent programs to reduce all other common items that end up as waste after only one or a few uses. 16. How will the bylaw be enforced? Education and awareness is the focus, and is always the first step before enforcement. If a fine is required, it would most likely be issued to the business owner, wherever possible. 17. What are the fines associated with this bylaw, and how will they be applied? An individual can be fined between $50 and $500, while a corporation can be fined between $100 and $10,000 dollars, which is consistent with other City bylaws. The City would always intend to provide education, guidance, and warnings before any financial penalty, wherever practicable. 18. Will there be a review period after the Bylaw is in effect? The bylaw and waste impacts will be reviewed after one year, or earlier, as required.
4 How will the City inform businesses and the community of the new regulation? 1. What is being done to raise awareness about the new bylaw? The City is developing an awareness campaign for businesses, residents and tourists. The City of Victoria s website will be regularly updated with current information including a list of frequently asked questions. In addition, the City will be working with local businesses to develop a Retailer Toolkit, with resources for communicating with employees and customers about the bylaw, helpful tips to assist with the transition to reusable bags and to help customers remember their reusable bags, frequently asked questions and more. 2. How will tourists know that Victoria is a plastic-checkout-bag-free City, and be prepared with their own reusable bags? The City is working with stakeholders, including Tourism Victoria, to develop a program to let visitors know that Victoria is a plastic-checkout-bag-free City, and that we are taking serious action to reducing our litter, material consumption and our landfill waste. Many of these visitors may come from other cities across North American and around the world that already have a ban on single-use plastic bags. Other questions we heard from the community: 1. How is the City mitigating the potential unintended consequences of this ban on plastic checkout bags, such as an increased use of paper bags? The most sustainable long-term, solution is where the community fully adopts reusable bags, but not too many, to transport their purchased goods. To be a success, the number of both paper and reusable bags in circulation must also be reduced, to avoid the negative, life-cycle impacts associated with these products. The mandatory fees on paper and reusable bags proposed in the draft Bylaw are intended to ensure that the use of these plastic bag alternatives is also minimized. 2. I use a plastic bag to line my waste bins. Does this bylaw mean I cannot use plastic bags to collect my garbage anymore? Plastic bin-liner and garbage bags can still be purchased in bulk at retail outlets. In many circumstances, dry residential landfill garbage does not require a plastic bin bag, but can be disposed directly into the residential grey bins. The City encourages residents to separate kitchen scraps, and recyclables from landfill waste. Bin liners are only required for certain waste types to minimize health concerns, dust or debris during pickup and
5 transport, and can be made from other repurposed plastic packaging or purchased bags. 3. Do bag bans really work? Removing this single-use material from our community will eliminate millions of checkout bags from the waste system. A fee or levy on bags have also been successful at reducing checkout bag waste. Both strategies, taken together, can achieve a higher degree of success. Alone, a fee may not be as effective at promoting a community-wide behaviour shift away from single-use materials. 4. Can reusable bags be recycled at the end of their intended service life? Some reusable bags can be recycled, and some parts of reusable bags can be recycled. Some cannot. The City is working with regional, provincial and business stakeholders to identify the preferred recycling options, and also to define the reusable bag specifications that would be most sustainable options for retailers to consider. Stay tuned for more information on this issue. 5. What should I do with my reusable bags when they become worn or damaged? Materials should be recycled or repurposed, wherever possible. Business and consumers should purchase reusable bags designed for more than 100 uses. 6. Where can we recycle all the other types of plastic film and bags? Residents can take their clean plastic materials to depots around the city and to many grocery store and retail outlets to have these materials recycled responsibly. 7. I use plastic bags to pick up my pet s waste. What will I use instead? Use the same dog bags that are available in dispensers or pet stores across the region. The City is working on a longer term solution for minimizing the pet waste at the landfill. 8. Will plastic bags that are currently exempt be considered under the ban in the future? Yes. After the review period, the exemption list will also be considered for any changes. Difference between Bags 1. How do plastic bags compare to paper bags? Plastic bags may only be used for minutes, but they remain in the landfill for over 100 years Modern landfills are covered, and do not promote conditions with enough oxygen and heat to break-down this garbage When a plastic bag is littered, it becomes a visual nuisance, can block water flow in natural and man-made systems, or harm wildlife.
6 A littered paper bag breaks down more quickly in water, and poses less risk to wildlife compared to a littered plastic bag Paper bags also pose environmental impacts due to resource consumption (ie. trees!) and the chemical pulping process Ideally, all paper bags would be made from post-consumer recycled products, and then recycled at the end of use. 2. What about bio-degradable bags aren t they sustainable? It is a common misperception that bio-based bags break down readily in the environment If recycled, bio-based bags are often mixed with regular plastic bags and damage recycling equipment and processes Many bio-based bags are designed to break-down when processed in industrial compost facilities (high temperature with controlled oxygen levels) Only with proper labeling, separation and materials, would bio-based plastic bags be a more sustainable option Regardless, a sustainably designed, reusable bag is the best alternative! 3. A Better Bag Reusable Shopping Bags A reusable shopping bag used many times has the least environmental impact of all bag types The ideal reusable bag is made from post-consumer recycled products, using the least amount of energy, water, and chemicals, and then properly recycled or repurposed at the end of life.