News, Politics

Toronto Bans Plastic Shopping Bags

Image: NMarkRoberts
In 2013, reusable bags, like this one, will replace all plastic bags in Toronto. Image: NMarkRoberts

Toronto is banning plastic shopping bags in stores.

Starting in January 2013, you’ll have to bring your own reusable bag to the store to cart your goods away.

More than 250 million bags end up in landfill every year, never breaking down into compost, according to a report by CBC News.

Plastic bags can also clog drainage systems and, when they are washed out to sea, can hurt fish and other marine animals.

Plastic bags are banned or restricted in about a quarter of the countries in the world, according to online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Countries including Italy and South Africa have banned plastic bags. Many large cities have also banned them.

Toronto currently charges five cents per bag—for instance, for people who want a plastic bag to carry their groceries home.

The five-cent fee was put in place to discourage people from using the non-environmentally friendly product. Instead, people are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to stores.

After Ireland put a fee on plastic bags in 2002, 90 per cent fewer bags were used. In 2010 Washington D.C. began charging five cents per plastic bag and that city’s consumption of them went down from 22.5 million to three million in the first month.

In Toronto, the plastic bag fee has cut down on the number of plastic bags used by half, according to Metro newspaper.

A ban was not exactly what Toronto mayor Rob Ford had in mind when he brought up the subject at City Council on Wednesday. In fact, he wanted to end the five-cent fee on bags.

However, Councillor David Shiner proposed a very different motion. He suggested Toronto do away with plastic bags altogether.

That motion passed, 24 to 20. Starting on Jan. 1, 2013, retailers in Toronto will not be allowed to give out or sell any plastic shopping bags, including ones that claim to be “compostable or biodegradable.”

According to Metro, “Ford appeared upset after the vote, blinking rapidly.” Ford said council’s decision didn’t make any sense, and said he felt the motion will be overturned.

Council also voted to stop the five-cent fee for plastic bags, from July 1 until the ban takes effect. That means stores will be able to hand out plastic bags free in Toronto for six months.

Ford later told a news radio station that he would like to see Torontonians come down to City Hall to protest the ban. He said he thinks the ban is the dumbest thing Toronto council has ever done.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
What do you think should be done about plastic bags. Should they be free of charge, cost 5 cents, or be banned altogether. Make a jot list of reasons to support your answer.

Reading Prompt: Purpose
Use the information in today’s article to write a letter to Toronto’s City Counsel. OK, now go ahead… and send send it. Let them know what you think! 

Primary, Junior, & Intermediate
Identify a variety of purposes for reading and choose reading materials appropriate for those purposes (OME, Reading: 1.2).

Grammar Feature: Verbs
Verbs are action words. Every sentence includes at least one verb. The verbs authors choose help readers understand the text. Underline the “key” verbs in today’s story that help you understand it. How do these verbs affect your understanding?