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Plastic bag manufacturers take legal action against Toronto bag ban

By: Michael Lauzon

November 20, 2012

TORONTO (Nov. 20, 12:25 p.m. ET) — Plastic bag manufacturers have taken their battle against Toronto’s bag ban to a new level.

The Canada Plastic Bag Association has started a legal proceeding Nov. 19 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto against the City of Toronto.

“As Toronto City Council gave no notice, undertook no public consultation, carried out no due diligence, and received no advice prior to adopting the Plastic Bag Ban, the bag ban resolution ought to be quashed for having been passed in bad faith,” noted CPBA spokesman Joe Hruska in a news release.

CPBA argues that Toronto’s council did not get input from anyone who indicated the ban “would further the economic, social, and/or environmental well-being of the city or would protect the health, safety and well-being of any person.”

The CPBA legal filing is the second notice of court action in less than a week. The Ontario Convenience Stores Association launched the first legal challenge Nov. 15.

CPBA is an ad hoc group recently formed to fight the ban, Hruska said in a telephone interview. It comprises bag producers and distributors throughout Canada. Its members supply single-service bags to supermarkets, department stores, discount stores, drug stores, convenience stores and other retail outlets.

The convenience stores association has retained high powered law firm McCarthy Tetrault of Toronto to prosecute its case. The association opposes the ban on the grounds the law is outside the city’s jurisdiction and that it was rushed through without consultation.

“The by-law selectively exempts dozens of plastic bags, but targets a single type – one that many retailers rely upon and that research shows consumers frequently re-use after they carry home their purchases,” OCSA said in a news release.

Toronto’s bag ban is slated to be in effect Jan. 1 2013. Exemptions include bulk and frozen food bags. City council is slated to take a final vote on the ban at a meeting in November.

Toronto’s city council first voted to ban plastic bags during an early June meeting that was originally to discuss rescinding a 5-cent tax on plastic retail bags. During the meeting a motion to ban the bags was put forward and garnered more than half of council votes.

A plastics industry executive said off the record that it is unlikely bag producers and distributors would join forces with other bag battlers because their aims, although initially similar, may diverge in the future.

Retail plastic bag usage in Toronto has fallen by 50 percent since the bag fee was legislated. Toronto is Canada’s largest city with more than 3 million residents within city limits.