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B.C. judge approves Victoria's plastic bag bylaw

Bylaw takes effect in July and asks businesses to charge 15 cents for paper bags, for now

The mayor of Victoria is hailing a court victory allowing the city to enact a bylaw that will prohibit grocery stores from offering or selling plastic bags to shoppers.

Lisa Helps says in a news release that the B.C. Supreme Court decision represents an important step in moving away from unsustainable business practices that create high volumes of waste from single-use plastic bags.

The Canadian Plastic Bag Association challenged the bylaw, saying it amounts to an environmental regulation that the city does not have the power to enact without provincial approval.

Justice Nathan Smith says the bylaw is characterized as a business regulation and even though some councillors may have been motivated by broad concerns for the environment, they were considering ways in which discarded plastic bags impact municipal facilities and services.

The bylaw that goes into effect in July calls on businesses to charge customers 15 cents for a paper bag and $1 for a reusable bag, but small paper bags used for items such as bulk foods, meat, bakery goods and plants will still be free.

Fees will increase January 2019 to 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag.

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