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Councillor wants to know if plastic bag bylaw is working

Toronto’s four-month-old plastic bag bylaw will be up for review on Wednesday.

One city councillor says it’s time to look at whether the program has been a success.

The bylaw came into effect on June 1, requiring stores to charge five cents for plastic bags. The idea behind the bylaw is to reduce the number of plastic bags entering landfill sites.

Anecdotally it appears the bylaw has been a success in reducing the number of bags but Coun. Michael Walker wants to know how Toronto is keeping track of the program:

“I want to know how successful it’s been,” said Walker. “Has the city got any hard data to confirm the objective of this bylaw, which is to reduce the consumption of plastic bags at source?”

Leslie Powers, spokesperson with Metro food stores, says if her company is typical, then the program has been a huge success. Metro now ships fewer plastic bags to its stores and sales of reusable grocery sacks are booming.

“We were shipping five million plastic bags a week out to our stores and we’re now shipping 1.2 million plastic bags, so that’s roughly a 70 per cent reduction in plastic bags,” said Powers.

“Metro’s been selling reusable bags since 2006 and we’ve seen since June 1 of this year an increase of 224 per cent in our reusable bags going out,” she said.

But Walker says the city needs to be able to measure how many plastic bags have been purchased since June and explain how the bylaw is enforced.

City staff are expected to provide details on how well the bylaw is working during Wednesday’s council meeting.

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