What’s Included in the Bylaw

  1. What types of businesses are covered by the Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw?

    All businesses operating within the City of Victoria.

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

    What should be considered when purchasing reusable bags that will meet the terms of the bylaw?  

     The bylaw defines a reusable bag as a “bag with handles that is for the purpose of transporting items purchased by the customer from a business and is:  

                    (a) designed and manufactured to be capable of at least 100 uses, and   

                    (b) primarily made of cloth or other washable fabric”  


    What reusable bag material are acceptable?  

    There are many types of reusable checkout bags. Under the bylaw, materials can include:  

    •  cotton or recycled cotton 

    • other natural fabrics: ie hemp, jute 

    • synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester and polypropylene (non-woven and woven polypropylene)   

    Please note: cloth” in the bylaw means that bags cannot be the conventional film-plastics.   


    What reusable bag materials are NOT acceptable?  

    Most plastic bags are currently made from film plastics, which are not acceptable under the bylaw.  These materials include:  

    • Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), which are the glossy, heavier weight plastic bags  

    • High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is a conventional grocery store bag (thin plastic).   

    • Biodegradable or compostable bags   

    Other factors to be consider when choosing a sustainable reusable bag:  

    The ideal sustainable reusable bag is made from post-consumer materials, using the least amount of energy, water and chemicals and then properly recycled or repurposed at the end of life.  Here are some things you can choose to consider:  

    • Is the bag made from recycled content? (virgin resources, such as cotton, have high-environmental footprints)  

    • It is easily recycled at the end of life? (made up of only one primary material ie. the handles and bag fabric are the same) 

    • Is it made with environmentally benign inks and labels?  

    • Is it made to avoid shedding plastic coatings when washed or through normal use?  

    • Has it been manufactured and transported in the most energy and environmentally friendly manner?  


    Functional considerations:  

    Here are a few other factors you can choose to consider: 

    • Are the bags machine-washable? This makes them easier to care for them. (Hand washable bags are also accepted under the bylaw.) 

    • Can they carry 10 kg a distance of 50 metres or more?  Depending on what kind of products you sell, this is a good test for durability.  

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

    The 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. Can a business give paper or reusable bags as gifts?

    No.  In accordance with the bylaw, bags cannot be given away for free.  Businesses must also ensure that the costs of the bags are included on the bill. 

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

  5. 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.

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

    Yes. The 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.).

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

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

    • Loose bulk items (fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains or candy)
    • frozen foods, meat, poultry,fish, whether pre-packages or not
    • prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged
    • loose small hardware items such as nails and bolts
    • flowers or potted plants
    • prescription drugs received from a pharmacy
    • live fish
    • large items such as pillows, blankets and other similar items that would not normally fit in a reusable bag
    • newspapers or other printed material intended to be left at a customer's residence or place of business
    • clothes after professional laundering or dry cleaning
  8. What size paper bag can be provided by a business for free?

    A small paper bag is defined in the bylaw to less than 15 x 20 cm, when lying flat.

  9. 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 July 1, 2019); and

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

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

  10. 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. 
  11. How will the funds collected from the bag fees be used?

    The fee will be charged and collected by individual businesses. These fees will help businesses recover the cost of bags, while also decreasing demand for single-use checkout bags.

  12. 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 waste reduction initiatives.  These fees can also be used to help cover the costs of bags. 

  13. 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.

  14. 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.   

  15. 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 possible.

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

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