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Toronto mayor wants to do away with bag tax


While Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his executive committee voted to rescind the five-cent bag tax, it’s unlikely the city council will support the decision next month.

According to a Toronto Star report, council would instead encourage major Toronto retailers to donate bag fee proceeds into a program that preserves the city’s tree canopy.

The 2009 bylaw has helped curb annual plastic bag use in the city from 457 million bags to 215 million as people switched to reusable bags. As a result, retailers are netting about $5.4 million a year from the fee, says the report.

Executive also asked that retailers prominently display how much of the fee revenue they are donating to the tree canopy program.

(The Star reports that staff estimate only about $270,000 would be raised of the $10 million the city needs annually for the tree canopy, since only a portion of retailers would likely participate.)

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association has said the fee unfairly portrays plastics and its products as an environmental problem and that many retailers already direct fee revenue to charities.

Loblaw, for example, supports the World Wildlife Fund.

David Wilkes, senior vice-president of the Retail Council of Canada’s grocery division, said in the report that consumers appear supportive of the fee.

Even if council rescinds the fee, the mayor agreed that many retailers could continue to charge the five-cent bag tax.

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