Esquimalt businesses will be no longer be able to give customers single-use plastic checkout bags come August, as the municipality works to reduce the amount of plastics winding up in the landfill and the environment.
Council adopted a bylaw barring businesses from providing single-use plastic checkout, take-out and food delivery bags – including ones made from biodegradable and compostable materials – at its June 14 meeting. The bylaw takes effect Aug. 16, but will be preceded by an education campaign to help familiarize shoppers with the bylaw.
Similar to bylaws adopted by other Greater Victoria municipalities, exemptions will still allow provision of plastic bags used for packaging: loose bulk food and produce items, small hardware items, prescription drugs, foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and frozen items whether they’re pre-packaged or not, wrapping flowers and transporting live fish.
The exemptions also allow plastic bags to be used for protecting linens, newspapers and dry- or professionally-cleaned clothes.
Businesses will be able give out paper or reusable bags for a fee, but must also ask if the customer needs a bag first. Customers must be charged at least 15 cents for a paper bag and $1 for a reusable bag. Establishments also aren’t able to deny or discourage customers from using their own bag.
Any business that contravenes the bylaw can face fines of up to $10,000.
“We’re excited to join other municipalities in this important initiative,” said Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “Reducing single-use plastic bags in the region helps all of us move forward in our sustainability goals.”
The bylaw first came to Esquimalt council in late 2019, but wasn’t adopted as it was pending provincial approval. The municipality was given statutory approval in February from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to move forward with bag bylaw.
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