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November 6th, 2012 · No Comments

Annex stores prepare for Toronto’s plastic bag ban

By Alexa Huffman

Council announced this month that the city’s plastic bag ban will begin in the new year, but questions are now being raised about the impact this decision will have on businesses.

Making Toronto a greener place was a major factor in council voting on the bag ban Councillor David Shiner introduced this past June. After an initial voting  to ban plastic bags outright passed, 24-20, a motion this October to reconsider and reopen the debate failed to gain enough votes to go forward.

“It’s a matter of perspective but if it encourages longer lasting bags, it’s a good thing,” said Michel Lagace, co-president of the University of Toronto Environmental Student Union.

As of  Jan. 1, 2013, retail stores will no longer be able to provide customers with single-use plastic or biodegradable shopping bags, which leaves stores in the Annex looking for other options.

The scramble for options doesn’t necessarily mean that retailers, both bigger chains and smaller shops, are against the ban. Lyla Radmanovich, the corporate spokesperson for Dollarama, explained that the store is supportive of the City of Toronto’s objective to change consumer behavior in order to improve practices that benefit the environment.

“At this time, we are following the situation closely and will find appropriate alternatives as required,” Radmanovich said. “City officials have been receptive to our concerns and we look forward to how they plan on addressing this issue.”

One of those concerns include having customers be inconvenienced if they go for an impromptu shopping trip and have not thought to bring a bag.

Lagace said solutions that could work include environmentally friendly cloth bags or reusing cardboard boxes.

Karma Co-op (739 Palmerston Avenue) is a non-profit, member-owned and operated grocery store whose members add to an overstock pile of bags for those who come without.

“We’re very eco-conscious,” Talia Mcguire, Karma Co-op’s acting general manager said. “Most members like to bring in alternatives to plastic. Even in the fruit and vegetables section, I think we will use only a big roll of plastic bags a year.”

While Karma Co-op members have used their own bags for years, for others there will have to be an adjustment period. Radmanovich said Dollarama thinks other methods, like bag specifications may be just as effective as an outright ban and a discussion about alternatives is vital.

Lagace said the adjustment may prove hard to reinforce.

“But in the end, even if it’s not perfect, it’s a move in the right direction,” Lagace said. “We could be a trendsetter for another Canadian city.”

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