Reducing Single-Use Plastic Bags

Effective July 1, 2019

We are seeing a high degree of compliance with the Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw across the City of Victoria and for that, we thank you! As you know, the bylaw intends to reduce plastic bag litter and waste in our community and our landfill, and applies to all businesses and restaurants in Victoria. Reducing waste can lead to lower City operating costs and increased service levels that enhance the quality of life and experience for all Victoria residents, businesses and visitors. 

Following the transition period aimed at supporting businesses by easing into the new regulation, as of July 1, 2019 the fees for reusable and paper bags are increasing. Businesses must now charge a minimum fee of 25¢ for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag if they’re not doing so already. These fees will help businesses recover the cost of bags, while also decreasing demand for single-use checkout bags and promoting the use of reusable bags.

Thank you again for supporting this initiative through your business.



The Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw came into effect on July 1, 2018.

As of July 1, 2018 businesses in Victoria cannot provide customers with single-use plastic checkout bags.  The City of Victoria's Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw (No. 18-008) can be read here and an April 26 amendment to the bylaw here.

This bylaw intends to reduce plastic bag litter and waste in our community and our landfill and applies to all businesses and restaurants in Victoria.  Businesses may provide paper checkout bags for a minimum charge of 15 cents per bag (rising to 25 cents on July 1, 2019), and reusable checkout bags for a minimum charge of $1 per bag (rising to $2 on July 1, 2019).  These fees should be stated on customer bills. 

On January 1, 2019 the City has the authority to begin issuing fines to businesses who aren't in compliance. The City will continue to focus on education and awareness to support businesses in transitioning away from single-use plastic checkout bags.


A Retail Toolkit has been developed to provide businesses with information and tools to help transition to the new bylaw. The Toolkit is available here.

The City's current focus is on developing education and awareness related to the bylaw.  The City will continue to work with retailers to promote compliance.

The City will begin administering fines in January 2019, if required. The Bylaw states that an individual can be fined between $50 and $500, while a corporation can be fined between $100 and $10,000 dollars.  These amounts are consistent with other City bylaws. 

Frequently Asked Questions

To read questions and answers the City has been hearing from residents, click here.

To read questions and answers the City has been hearing from businesses, click here.



Reusable Bag Requirements 

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”



Examples of Reusable Bags

There are many types of reusable checkout bags that are designed to be capable of at least 100 uses.  Examples of durable and reusable bag materials include:

  • Synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester and polypropylene (non-woven and woven polypropylene)
  • Cotton or recycled cotton
  • Other natural fabrics (e.g. hemp, jute)

What to Consider When Choosing a Reusable Bag
The ideal reusable bag is made from sustainable materials, durable and easily recycled or repurposed.  

Looking for tips to remember your reusable bag?

The Grade 5 class at James Bay Elementary brainstormed 10 tips to help you remember your reusable bags!


Here are a few of our favourite tips:

  • Place a few reusable bags in your glove box or on the back seat of your car. 
    Pair this with a BYO Bag window reminder decal (watch for them at the City's pop-up information stations this summer) and you'll always have a bag or two on hand for all of the incredible shopping Victoria has to offer.
  • Hang a few reusable bags by your door or by your keys.
    Grab a few on your way out and happy shopping!
  • Pop a few in your panier.
    Heading out biking for the day?  You never know when you'll come across a farmer's market or something else irresitable along the way.

What's Happened To Date

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

Feedback was incorporated into the final bylaw which was adopted by Council on January 11, 2018.  Bag pricing changes, a list of exemptions and a phased-in approach to enforcement were some of the key changes resulting from this engagement.  In February, a focus group was held with local businesses.  Feedback from this session informed the development of the Retail Toolkit.

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 2017

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

October  18, 2017

Open House and Public Meeting

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

October 30 - December 1        

• Phase II: Engagement
The City invited review and comment on the draft Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw. [PDF - 357 KB]  from retail businesses, stakeholders and the public.

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


The feedback was used to update the bylaw and also informed the communications strategy for retail businesses and the community.

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


For more information:

View the City Council webcast from January 11, 2018, here
Read the report to City Council from December 14, 2017, 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]