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Small business fights 10 cent bag grab by city


November 26, 2008
By Canadian Pizza

November 26, 2008 – On December 1st, the City of Toronto will  vote on the recommendation of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee that requires all retailers to provide customers “at the point of sale” with a discount or rebate of 10 cents for “each single-use plastic retail shopping bag not used by the customer.”

On December 1st, the City of Toronto will  vote on the recommendation of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee that requires all retailers to provide customers “at the point of sale” with a discount or rebate of 10 cents for “each single-use plastic retail shopping bag not used by the customer.” The city has not explained how the number of plastic bags “not used” will be calculated by the cashier and customer at the point of sale.  Nor has the city indicated how the mandatory price discounting will be enforced or adjudicated in the case of a disagreement between the retailer and the customer at the checkout. 

John Scott, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), has stated that retailers are already committed to significantly reducing the number of plastic bags in the waste stream.  “In fact,” Scott pointed out, “that’s the reason last year that CFIG, the other major retail associations, and the Recycling Council of Ontario, entered into a partnership with the Ontario government to reduce the amount of plastic bags in the waste stream by 50%, by the year 2012.”  

This partnership recognizes that this issue is one that requires a collaborative approach between industry, government, and consumers.  “Asking retailers alone to shoulder the costs of trying to reduce the amount of plastic bags is punitive and makes no sense,” Scott said.    He added that, “When it is clear we are entering a recession, adding this financial burden to small and medium size businesses is incomprehensible.  It is a burden they simply cannot and should not be mandated to assume.”

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Scott also stated that he was disappointed that the Mayor was unwilling to personally meet with the retail associations that represent many small and medium size businesses in the city.   “I think it is critical that the Mayor, and not his staff, hear directly from us about the concerns our members have with this proposal before it is debated and voted on at City Council. Many of our members are also concerned that if adopted, this would set a dangerous precedent and wonder what would next be in line for city pricing regulations at the point of sale in their stores,” he added.

CFIG is demanding that the ’10 cent bag grab’ be sent back to staff and Committee for further review and consultation with industry. The original report before Committee included recommendations relating to coffee cups and lids, and that part of the report was sent back to staff.  No-one has given an explanation of why the report was split and Scott said “One has to wonder what information was conveyed to Committee members that resulted in that curious decision.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) is a non-profit trade association founded in 1962. Its mission is to further the unique interests of independent and franchised grocers through progressive partnerships with retailers, suppliers and consumers. Representing 3,800 retailers across Canada, CFIG is a strong, united voice for independent grocers, heard at all levels of government and industry. CFIG members operate independent and franchised grocery and specialty food stores.
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For more information, contact:
Meg Chari, Coordinator, Communications
Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers
416-492-2311 ext. 232
mchari@cfig.ca