Reducing Single-Use Plastic Bags

Latest News

On January 11, 2018, Victoria City Council approved the adoption of the Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw. The bylaw is proposed to take effect July 1, 2018, with enforcement starting, January 2019.

The City will launch a multi-faceted awareness campaign following the adoption of the bylaw to prepare businesses, residents, and tourist for the regulation and to help transition from plastic to reusable bags. Also, the City will work with local businesses to develop a Business Toolkit, with resources for communicating with employees and customers about the new bylaw.

For more information:
View the City Council webcast from January 11, 2018, here
Read the report to City Council from December 14, 2017, here
Read the Checkout Bag Reduction Bylaw NO. 18-008 here

You can read the May 2016 report to Council here [PDF - 3 MB]
Annex A  to the May 2016 report is here. [PDF - 1.2 MB]
Annex B to the May 2016 report is here. [PDF - 67 KB]
View the May 2016 Council presentation here. [PDF - 122 KB]

Thank you for participating in the engagement process for the proposed Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw.

From October 30 to December 1, 2017, the public was invited to provide feedback on the proposed draft bylaw through in-person events and via email.  The feedback collected has been used to refine the draft bylaw. The feedback has also informed the implementation plan and awareness strategy for businesses, residents, and tourists.

City staff presented to City Council on December 14, 2017, to consider staff recommendations and move towards adoption.

Find out more about the proposed bylaw:

Read the December 14, 2017, report to City Council here

Read the revised Draft Checkout Bag Regulation bylaw here

Read the excerpt from Accessibility Working Group Minutes from November 2, 2017, here

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are themed questions about the bylaw. Click on the links to learn more

  1. Read why the City is restricting single-use checkout bags?
  2. Learn what’s in the draft bylaw
  3. Read about difference between plastic, paper, reusable and biodegradable bags
  4. Read how the City will inform businesses and the community of the new regulation
  5. Other questions we heard from the community

The complete list of frequently asked questions is available in PDF form here (December 2017)


On October 26, 2017, Council approved a motion to consider a new single-use checkout bag bylaw, prohibiting businesses from selling and distributing plastic bags to customers.

The draft bylaw proposes that 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
  • a fee no less than 12 cents per paper bag; and minimum two dollars per reusable bag is charged

The draft bylaw also includes a number of exceptions, such as bags to package bulk items, meat, prescriptions and dry cleaning.

For complete details, read the Committee of the Whole report and draft Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw the PowerPoint presentation presented by City staff.

Did You Know?

  • 17 million plastic bags are used every year by Victoria residents alone, many of which end up in our landfill, local waterways and on our beaches.
  • Plastics make up over 15% of all landfill waste, comprised of single-use plastic bags, plastic film and packaging waste.
  • Plastic bags have negative impacts on marine life, the environment and are made using non-renewable fossil fuels.
  • Paper bags may seem less harmful than plastic bags, but paper bags actually cause more harmful greenhouse gas emissions over their lifetime than plastic bags
  • Efforts to reduce plastic waste can have a big impact.  By simply using our own sustainable, reusable bags, we can avoid the harmful effects from these materials that quickly become waste after only a few uses. 

What can a business do to help reduce plastic bag use?

Here are a few ideas for businesses to consider, even before any action is taken by the City:

• Always ask the question: A bag might not even be needed. A mandatory question at the till will also get your customer to consider their need for a single-use bag

• Create incentives: Offer benefits or incentive for those who bring in their own bags

• Charge for bags: Fees could help customers consider going bag-less next time

• Bag exchange: Set up a free, reusable bag donation program to put surplus reusable bags in the hands of those that need them.

What's Happen So far

The City has held a series of meetings with local businesses, advocacy groups and industry associations to better understand the benets, barriers, concerns and success stories related to the transition from single-use checkout bags (plastic and paper) to reusable bags.

May 2016

• City Council directs staff to meet with key business and waste  management stakeholders to explore ways to reduce single-use plastic bags in the city.
Read Council meeting minutes from May 26, 2016 here 

• Research and analysis of industry practice and innovation

May 2017

• Phase I: Engagement Kick-off event with local stakeholders

September – October

• City staff hosted three separate meetings with industry   representatives, advocacy groups, and local businesses.

October  18, 2017

Open House and Public Meeting

October 26

• Council approved a motion to consider a new single-use checkout bag bylaw

October 30 - December 1        

• Phase II: Engagement
The City invited review and comment on the draft Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw.  from retail businesses, stakeholders and the public.

Feedback was collected and included in the December 14, Council report.

December 14, 2017

• Staff presented feedback received recommended changes to the bylaw.

• City Council passed first, second and third reading of the proposed Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw and will consider it for adoption at the January 11, 2018, Council meeting.

January 11, 2018

• City Council adopted the Bag Reduction Bylaw


Have other ideas on what the City and community can do? Do you suggestions or feedback for us to consider? Email anytime!