What’s Proposed in the Draft Bylaw

  1. What types of businesses are covered by the new bylaw?

    All businesses operating within the City of Victoria.

  2. What types of checkout bags are permitted under the draft Bylaw?

    Businesses may provide a checkout bag to customers only if:

    • The customer is first asked whether they need a bag.

    • The business provides a paper or reusable bag at a cost.

  3. Under the terms of the draft Bylaw, will businesses be able to provide customers with plastic checkout bags?

    The draft Bylaw states that businesses are not allowed to sell or provide customers with a plastic bag nor can they provide a single-use checkout bag to a customer free of charge.

  4. Are paper bags required to have handles to be considered a “checkout bag”?

    Paper bags are not required to have handles, but retailers may wish to consider bags with handles to improve bag convenience and performance.

  5. Can a business gift a reusable bag?

    No. Under the terms of the Bylaw, gifting anew reusable bags is not permitted.  Businesses can offer a discount or rebate to customers as they see fit, but the bag fee should be clearly visible on the transaction and bill. 

    A business can only give a reusable bag away for free if it has already been used.  This means that businesses can develop programs to take back surplus reusable bags and provide clean reusable bags free to those in need.

  6. When is the draft Bylaw proposed to take effect?

    The proposed regulation would come into effect no earlier than July 1st, 2018. 

  7. Can business use up their existing bag stock, even past the July 1, 2018 bylaw date?

    Yes.  Businesses have until January 1, 2019 to use up all remaining bag stock, if purchased before December 14, 2017.

  8. Will businesses be permitted to sell plastic bags sold in packages?

    Yes. The draft Bylaw does not restrict the sale of bags intended for use at the customer’s home or business (garbage bin liners, sandwich bags, compost liners, etc.).

  9. Are there exceptions to this regulation that allow some single-use plastic bags to be permitted?

     The draft Bylaw includes a list of exceptions. Single-use plastic bags can be provided for:

    • Loose bulk items (fruits, vegetables, nuts, bulk confectionery, prepared foods, meat, fish, baked goods, frozen food wraps, etc.) to the checkout for hygiene protection from direct contact with other items
    • Wrap flowers or potted plants
    • Plastic bag for prescription drugs received from a pharmacy
    • Plastic bag to protect newspapers or other printed material intended to be left at a customer's residence or place of business
    • Protect clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning
    • Large items such as pillows, blankets and pet itemsthat would not normally fit in a reusable bag.  In many cases, these products have plastic covers and do not require a plastic checkout bag. 
  10. What size paper bag can be provided by a business for free?

    A small paper bag is defined in the bylaw to less than 15x20 cm, when lying flat.

  11. What are the minimum bag fees set by the bylaw?

    A fee no less than 15 cents per paper bag (rising to 25 cents after one year); and

    A minimum cost of $1 for reusable bags for the first year (rising to $2 in 2019.)

    It is at the business owner’s discretion if they choose to charge more than the set minimum amount.

  12. How did the City determine the fees for bags?

    • Fees were set to reflect the actual cost of producing a paper bag and reusable bag
    • Fees are a proven mechanism to promote sustainable business and consumer habits, while avoiding overuse of any bag type. 
  13. How will the funds collected from the bag fees be used?

    The fee will be charged and collected by individual businesses.

  14. Does the City mandate how the paper and reusable bag fees are used?

    Businesses allocate those monies as they see fit. The City would always promote that any additional revenues from this program be used to help improve sustainability programs, including packaging waste reduction initiatives.  The City understands that these fees can help cover the costs associated with this new program. 

  15. What is the City doing to reduce plastic packaging and other single-use plastics?

    Plastics are precious. 

    The City is working with stakeholders to develop a strategy and subsequent programs to reduce all other common items that end up as waste after only one or a few uses.

  16. How will the bylaw be enforced?

     Education and awareness is the focus, and is always the first step before enforcement. If a fine is required, it would most likely be issued to the business owner, wherever possible.   

  17. What are the fines associated with this bylaw, and how will they be applied?

    An individual can be fined between $50 and $500, while a corporation can be fined between $100 and $10,000 dollars, which is consistent with other City bylaws. The City would always intend to provide education, guidance, and warnings before any financial penalty, wherever practicable. 

  18. Will there be a review period after the Bylaw is in effect?

    The bylaw and waste impacts will be reviewed after one year, or earlier, as required.