reduction strategy that would see the price of paper bags and new
reusable bags increase in an effort to encourage less waste.
The proposed bylaw would require Calgary businesses to charge a
minimum fee of $0.15 for paper shopping bags, $1 for new reusable
shopping bags and ensure their paper shopping bags contain at least
40 per cent recycled materials. There would be a second increase in
price a year after the bylaw came into effect which would bump the
costs to a minimum $0.25 for paper bags and $2 for new reusable bags.
The strategy would also implement a "by request" requirement for all
foodware items like straws, stir sticks, utensils and toothpicks -
regardless of their material. This would also include prepackaged
condiments and napkins.
Coun. Richard Pootmans said he's looking forward to the discussion
the community development committee will have on the strategy during
Tuesday's meeting. "Mixed feelings, but I think that it's probably
the right direction to go," Pootmans said on Monday.
He said many people have already changed their habits to bring
reusable bags when they head to the grocery store.
He wants more information from city administration about how the
federal government's plastic ban would work with the proposed local
The recommendation to the committee by city administration comes
after the federal government has approved bans on many single-use
By the end of this year, companies will be banned from importing or
making plastic bags, takeout containers and four other plastic
A waste composition study completed in Calgary in 2019 found that
approximately 3.5 million plastic shopping bags, 6.4 million plastic
utensils, 2.4 million takeout containers and 2.4 million disposable
cups are thrown away in the residential and commercial garbage
streams every week.
With the ban on plastic items at the federal level, the proposed
bylaw in Calgary would instead concentrate on reduction and the
substitution of single-use plastic items that will occur.
"The focus is on reducing waste from single-use items independent of
composition - not simply replacing single-use plastic items with
single-use items made from other materials (even if they are
recyclable or compostable)," the report from city administration
says. According to a waste reduction survey done by the city in 2021
and 2022, 91 per cent of Calgarians think the city should play a role
in reducing waste from single-use items, through education, outreach
and development of regulations for businesses. The waste reduction
survey indicated 87 per cent of Calgarians bring their own shopping
bags to the grocery store always or most of the time.
The report by city administration says that promoting reusable
products, reducing the use of single-use products of any material and
ensuring the lowest impact end-of-life scenario will lower Calgary's
environmental footprint. Coun. Jennifer Wyness said the proposal
feels like "clickbait policy" that the federal government has already
"We have Co-op who has come up with a compostable bag and we would be
penalizing that innovation," said Wyness. "What is the problem we're
trying to solve and how are we actually incentivizing innovation? I
don't think this does it."
If the strategy is approved, the city's waste and recycling services
will work with the engagement team and Business Improvement Areas
(BIAs) to better understand how the city can support the transition
and address concerns. "Given the federal government has the most
power to truly make a change in Canada, and that businesses are
already adapting and making changes in this field, I feel some of the
ideas here are not solutions," said Wyness.
"What are we accomplishing? What we're doing when we start adding
fees to these bags is adding to the profit margins of corporations.
How do we make sure we're not just incentivizing more profits for
companies?" Angela McIntyre with the Calgary Climate Hub said the
group supports policy decisions about reducing waste like this one.
She added, however, that this strategy on single-use items seems
trite when compared to the much larger environmental impacts of other
city decisions, like expanding suburbs, especially after the current
city council declared a state of climate emergency.
Robert Tremblay, also with Calgary Climate Hub, said it's good for
the environment and climate for the city to encourage less shopping
bag and foodware waste.
"It does seem short-sighted to swap out one single-use thing for
another single-use thing, so I think it's good to focus on moving
towards a circular economy model rather than just switching up
plastics for paper," he said.
"It's important to reduce our use of landfills. Using reusable
shopping bags just makes a lot of sense." Edmonton's city council is
in discussions about a similar bylaw that would see the minimum price
of paper bags rise to $0.25
The bylaw in Edmonton would also require restaurants to serve drinks
in reusable cups for dine-in service and create policies for handling
reusable dishware. A public hearing on the proposed bylaw is
scheduled in October.
In an effort to reduce the impact Calgary's proposed bylaw might
have, city administration says charities would be exempt from the bag
fees, stores would be encouraged to accept donations of bags for a
bag-share program and the city would look into a free reusable bag
system for low-income locals.
If the strategy is approved by Calgary's community development
committee, it would go to council for a final vote at the next
combined meeting. The bylaw would take effect in early 2024 if passed
With files from Michael Rodriguez firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter:
© 2023 Agility PR Solutions