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Convenience store owners file lawsuit over bag ban

Posted by Chris Bateman / November 15, 2012

toronto bag banToronto's bag ban might not be in the bag just yet. The Ontario Convenience Stores Association says it will mount a legal challenge to the city's decision to outlaw reusable plastic containers at the checkout. Earlier this week the public works committee voted 4-2 to proceed with the ban, though they decided to give stores a six-month grace period to use up existing stock before issuing fines.

At that meeting, dissenting councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong implored any special interest group to sue the city and put a stop to the proceedings. Today, he got his wish. OCSA believes the city didn't have the authority to issue the ban in the first place and says the rules were enacted without proper consultations.

The ban itself came about after a bizarre twist of events at a city council meeting earlier this year. During a debate about whether or not to scrap the 5-cent fee, councillor David Shiner introduced a surprise motion to eliminate bags at the checkout altogether. Council, much to Rob Ford's chagrin, voted 24-20 in favour.

In the aftermath, the city went back and conducted an environmental assessment and gave groups on both sides of the political coin a chance to speak at yesterday's committee meeting.

The main opponents to the prohibition are, naturally, groups with a vested interest in making sure retailers keep buying plastic bags. "Reverse the Bag Ban," one such group, produced a series of online PSA-style videos featuring talking dogs to try and drum up support for their campaign.

Here's the full text of the OCSA's lawsuit against the City of Toronto:

OCSA vs. City of Toronto

Are you in favour of banning bags? Are you likely to buy less or change your buying habits based on the city's decision?

Photo: "Plastic Bags" by ravenswift from the blogTO Flickr pool.



Marcus / November 15, 2012 at 05:01 pm
I personally think this is the stupidest ban ever. So now we are expected to carry shopping bags with us wherever we go? Dumb dumb dumb.

Give me my plastic bags. I use the over and over for many things including garbage bags, but now instead I'll be buying plastic garbage bags so there'll be no change except for the inconvenience of having to carry everything in your arms rather than in a nice comfortable plastic bag.
Damien / November 15, 2012 at 05:08 pm
Did you know that there are more cows than humans in Alberta? Well now you do.
dictionary replying to a comment from Marcus / November 15, 2012 at 05:18 pm
"most stupid", stupid.
Ace McNugget replying to a comment from dictionary / November 15, 2012 at 05:21 pm
agreed, this is the most stupid ban ever.
Dmitri replying to a comment from Marcus / November 15, 2012 at 05:27 pm
I agree it's inconvenient, however, plastic bags do not last long, often are horrible quality (they have holes and will not be good garbage bags) and are toxic when decomposing. Also a hazard for wildlife and a lot more things.

Grocery stores produce ridiculous amounts of plastic (everything is wrapped in it, some places even wrap each banana in plastic) which is (as you may guess) bad for our environment. Recycling those things is not easy (how many of the things you own are actually made from recycled plastic or paper).

This law already exists in many asian countries. This is no fun, but these kinds of policies (and much worse) will be coming as we pollute the planet further and have less oil. The choice is now or later.
Brad / November 15, 2012 at 05:27 pm
I hate this ban too
Lindsay / November 15, 2012 at 05:45 pm
I'm all for this ban. Yes, it would be an adjustment to remember to bring a reusable bag, but I certainly can adapt. Many stores have actually already found solutions to the ban on plastic and have implemented them. I think sometimes we have to make sacrifices in convenience when it comes to working on saving the environment.
Chris replying to a comment from Brad / November 15, 2012 at 05:51 pm
I also think its silly - the 5 cent fee was working just fine and for hte most part, accomplishing what it was intended to do.

But then Ford, in his infinite wisdom decided he needed a victory at Council and went after what he thought was low-hanging fruit, and it blew up in his face when one of his supposed allies proposed the ban and the anti-Ford councillors jumping on the bandwagon so they can embarrass him and get their pound of flesh.

Now here we are, with a rushed, improperly thought out by-law (even if the intent is legit, there's little question that its been rushed without a lot of thought), and our councillors (thanks DMW) telling private citizens to sue Council to make it change its mind (even while supporting the recommendation to move forward with the ban), with taxpayers naturally footing the bill for the defense. Always easy to spend other people's money, isn't it Councillors?

No one at Council has clean hands on this one.

Respect for taxpayers indeed
Alex / November 15, 2012 at 05:57 pm
If LA can do it, we can do it. I don't see any reason why we should continue contributing to the floating garbage mass in our oceans.
(there's more than one of these patches, btw)

On a trip to the Dominican 7 years ago, I saw so much plastic garbage on the beaches - breast implants, bags, small plastic toys/trinkets, shoes, pieces of homes etc...

Do yourself and the future inhabitants of Earth a favour and think outside the box. Is it so hard to get a packsack or an over the shoulder bag to carry your groceries? I'm getting so tired of the ME attitude. People are selfish; learn some humility. Future generations will thank you when they can still drink the water and breathe the air.
Dave / November 15, 2012 at 06:13 pm
Get over it people. The 5 cent thing worked and so will the ban. Move on, nothing to see here. Seriously pull your head out of the sand. Use paper bags, like the LCBO.
Jeremy replying to a comment from Dmitri / November 15, 2012 at 06:16 pm
"I agree it's inconvenient, however, plastic bags do not last long, often are horrible quality (they have holes and will not be good garbage bags)"

Speak for yourself. They work fine for me and lots of other people. I use them as garbage bags, for transporting dirty stuff like shoes and, when I had a dog, for cleaning up crap.

"and are toxic when decomposing. Also a hazard for wildlife and a lot more things."

How about we look at compostable bags then? There's got to be something cheaper than $1/bag when people forget or aren't able to bring their reusables.

"Grocery stores produce ridiculous amounts of plastic (everything is wrapped in it, some places even wrap each banana in plastic) which is (as you may guess) bad for our environment. Recycling those things is not easy (how many of the things you own are actually made from recycled plastic or paper)."

Completely true, which is why the ban doesn't make much sense. It targets a tiny portion of the overall plastic being used, and the most re-usable portion at that. A real solution would target the larger problem.

This ban is mostly about making Rob Ford look bad. And I love that, it was absolutely hilarious when they passed it. But, even though I've barely bought any plastic bags at the grocery store in years, I think it's impractical, not very helpful (except symbolically) and frankly, I think it's the government overreaching.

If I was a store owner, I'd put small boxes of bags on my shelf (try and stop that when there are already all sorts of plastic bags available) that customers could buy. The only inconvenience is that customers would have to grab them, bring them to the checkout themselves and then unbox them. It would lead to more waste in the end, since not all bags would get used and there'd be the box left over.

The 5c fee was the perfect compromise: it drastically reduced bag usage while not inconveniencing anyone.
Jeremy replying to a comment from Dave / November 15, 2012 at 06:19 pm
The lcbo bags are useless. They're barely strong enough to keep 2 bottles of wine together, they're hard to hold and they're not nearly as useful as plastic bags for re-use. Granted, plastic wouldn't work all that well for heavy bottles and cans either. At the lcbo, I either bring a strong bag for larger purchases or carry smaller purchases out by hand.
mezimeen / November 15, 2012 at 06:23 pm
Anyone ever heard of PAPER BAGS!?!?! Stop crying over plastic.
Oh please. / November 15, 2012 at 06:43 pm
The ban is a silly idea. If the city were to propose a truly beneficial ban, such as to prohibit smoking altogether (please, no replies on the futility of this), there would be such a stink storm about how such a ban would be an affront to individual liberties. "I choose to smoke. Deal with it", we would hear. Why is the bag ban not an affront to individual liberties? If a company wants to produce bags and sell them to a chain of stores, and if that chain of stores in turn wants to sell them to me for 5 cents a piece, then so be it. It's true what a couple of people have said above about the 5 cent price dissuading many people from using plastic shopping bags. People who wanted them could still buy them, and people who did not could bring their reusable stuff. I see far more people with reusable sacks in the grocery check-out lanes than I do bag buyers.

I can't believe all of the people running around with iPhones containing rare earth metals who are simultanesouly bashing plastic bags. If it weren't an affront to individual liberties, I would say that there should be a ban on commenters who pretend to have an ounce of scientific knowledge.
Me / November 15, 2012 at 06:44 pm
And once they start using paper bags the Lefties will have THOSE banned to save the trees....

We have to realise that part of being Left is getting up every morning trying to find SOMETHING to ban or bitch about.
steve replying to a comment from Me / November 15, 2012 at 07:38 pm
Before you blurb and look foolish take a bit of time and do some research. Find out who proposed it and were Ford was at the time.
The whining and near temper tantrums are hilarious, look up what the ban is about.
v79 / November 15, 2012 at 08:23 pm
Have these people asking us to use paper bags ever used them? They can hold only a small fraction of the weight plastic can, and must be supported from the bottom to ensure they don't rip (which means at most 2 bag maximum per trip if you're shopping on foot). This is especially ridiculous when they're expected to be used at the LCBO and grocery stores, where heavy goods are the norm. Regular plastic bags are reused over and over again, and are actually more environmentally friendly and healthier than the larger, thicker reusable kind being pushed on us by retailers for a buck a bag.
the lemur replying to a comment from dictionary / November 15, 2012 at 08:33 pm
Ace McNugget / November 15, 2012 at 08:49 pm
It's frankly insulting to be told we can't use plastic bags now. Yeah it's easy enough for suburban drivers to use paper bags. But it's another thing altogether for those of us who live in the city and already struggle with bags of shopping on the streetcar. Let's face it, this was only brought through to annoy Rob Ford and while that can be quite entertaining for those politicians they should be doing their job- representing the people who live in this city and not making our lives so much more difficult by their thoughtless joking around.
Tallia / November 15, 2012 at 09:23 pm
People are criticizing, but these types of bans are being proposed in numerous cities across the world. The plastic bag thing had it's time, but how did people do anything before that in the period where there weren't even the transportation options there are now ( I am lucky enough to have hands and arms, and generally pockets. If I need something bigger than can fit in those things, then I will bring a bag (which is also very small and can fit into my pocket) I really don't see the problem with banning these. How much more circumference do we want to add to the plastic heap in the ocean (currently the size of Texas, I think)??? If you are insulted, then you need to grow up and stop feeling so obligated to everything.
v79 / November 15, 2012 at 09:58 pm
I suggest every City Councillor be required to carry a weeks worth or groceries and a six pack of beer a minimum of ten city blocks in paper bags before this changes gets adopted. I have a feeling the vote would swing unanimously in the favour of the "against" side once they put their no plastic idiocy to practice.
visualhornet / November 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm
This is Stupid PAPER BAGS use more energy to make than plastic bags. Its all bullshit. Plastic bags are made from recycled plastic pellets. Anyone that thinks Paper Bags our better for enviroment get your head out of your arse
acv66 / November 15, 2012 at 11:40 pm
all things that should be banned they ban bags? ford was right city hall has no idea what most citizens of Toronto want
the lemur / November 16, 2012 at 12:10 am
Where does it say we'll be forced to use paper bags at all?
b / November 16, 2012 at 01:20 am
I bike to work and use a courier bag and can fit my clothes for work and on the way home can still fit a six pack and groceries for the evening. If I need more stuff, I have those reusable bags stowed away for such a purpose.. c'mon, It's not a big deal guys. Live with it. One less piece of plastic for the dump...
Steven / November 16, 2012 at 03:05 am
Before the previous mayor, we shopped and business owners provided for free, plastic bags for items purchased. They even double-bagged heavy items!

Most plastic bags are biodegradable. Some have holes in the bottom but to reuse, place the wax paper from inside cereal boxes or any other dry products as your base liner.

Study after study, paper bags cost more to produce than plastic bags and aren't pratical when it's raining or when cold items in hot weather dampens the paper because of condensation.

'Biodegradable' plastic bags takes less space at a garbage dump thatn the items in it.

Think back before the old mayor miller days. All was good for consumers and business owners.

Toronto councillors have a personal vendetta against the mayor and we should not be their pawns. They have to smarten up before committing political suicide.
Ford4ever / November 16, 2012 at 05:51 am
What about the plastic baggies supplied by produce stands, for your beans or apples or what-have-you? Are those evil too?

belvedere / November 16, 2012 at 07:08 am
ban rofo not bags.
jer / November 16, 2012 at 09:26 am
One of the major issues is "cheap" plastic bags. Not everyone gives out bags that will even last the trip home let alone be good enough for re-using. Vs. stores like Longo's have great plastic bags that I can re-use many times over and be sure that my garbage will not leak through when I do use it as a garbage bag. There is definitely a middle point which should be a minimum standard for a garbage bag.

Re: finding plastic bags in the ocean/etc. That is a whole other issue. People who litter should be held responsible with more enforcement.
Johnny Cash 2.0 / November 16, 2012 at 09:41 am
Anyone know if biodegradable bags are being banned as well? It would be great if this ban forced retailers to invest in non-plastic bags.

Bag Man / November 16, 2012 at 10:12 am
Just ban the damn plastic bags already. Denzil Minnan Wrong is just encouraging the waste of taxpayers' money by asking people to sue the city. This administration needs to be voted out along with the plastic bags. Send the talking dogs home with Denzie.
kn / November 16, 2012 at 10:19 am
this is typical of a city council that is essentially lost in space. ok, i get it. plastic bags are bad. next is the hard part.....thinking. proper good old fashion scientific analysis as to how to replace them. it seems city councillors aren't big on this.
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