Toronto’s ban on plastic bags is facing a challenge

by | Nov 1, 2012 | News

More people have been using reusable bag ever since the 5 cent fee was implemented, said Joe Hruska, a post-use recovery consultant for the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. PHOTO BY BIANCA BYKHOVSKY

By Bianca Bykhovsky

The ban on plastic bags in Toronto is set to begin in the new year, but a coalition of business and retail groups opposed to the ban has other plans.

The coalition has set up a website called as part of their campaign, which officially launched Monday. Joe Hruska, a post-use recovery consultant for the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, told Humber News the ban on plastic bags will not be an efficient or effective policy.

“Paper bags are just more of an expensive alternative and will just not do the job. They will raise the cost of managing waste in Toronto,” he said. “Everything about this ban has not been thought out by Toronto, they haven’t looked at the facts.” Toronto council voted to reopen this bylaw in October, said Hruska.  Toronto Mayor Rob Ford “is against this ban, he knows they (plastic bags) are a necessity.”

Hruska said Toronto jobs may be on the line if the ban passes.

“Here’s the real tragedy that some of the councilors don’t seem to be concerned about: There are about 10,900 direct employment jobs in making bags across Ontario, 5000 are located right in the Toronto area, they are 90 per cent Canadian owned,”  Hruska added. “They’re small family-run businesses usually and these people will be put out of work based upon a botched vote at Toronto council on June 6.”

Listen: Joe Hruska on the mission of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association

Environmentalists continue to fight for the ban claiming eliminating single use bags is only a first step in the fight for a greener Toronto.

“This is not a ban on all plastic bags, it’s a ban on single use plastic bags that you get when you checkout,” said Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

“Ford has made it clear since he became mayor that he has very little regard for things that are good for the environment. We’re going to continue talking to councilors and making it clear to them what the real information is on the plastic bag ban,” said Hartmann. “We expect that the majority of councilors will once again support the plastic bag ban.”

That would be a mistake, according to the ant-ban lobby, which charges that  reusable bags made out of materials other than plastic pose health threats.

Coalition member Ewa Modlinska, of the Silverhill Institute of Environmental Research and Conservation, was reported by The National Post to have told the  campaign launch Monday that linen reusable bags could become bacteria-infested  after only a few uses.

But Hartmann says this argument is a non-starter.

“If you worry about germs on reusable bags, you should be much more worried about the money you touch because there are a lot more germs on it,” he said.

“I have not spoken to one environmental organization that wants to eliminate the plastic bag ban because groups know how wasteful single use plastic bags are,” said Hartmann. “We don’t need these bags.”

He noted that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario switched to using paper bags over a year ago, thus far without incident.

At the time of reporting, the LCBO was unavailable for comment.