Plastic Bags

Myths: Fact or Fiction

Degrade in Landfill Myth

The Single Use Myth


Paper vs. Plastic Bags

Paper vs. Plastic Studies

Reusables Greener?

Types of Bags

Litter: The Facts
Public Health

Canada Update

Bags Around the World

The Oil Myth

Made in Canada
Ireland's Bag Tax

Canada Update—Trends in Managing Plastic Shopping Bags

Fiction:  The trend in Canada is to ban plastic shopping bags.

Fact:  No. The trend in Canada has been to keep plastic shopping bags on the market, but use a number of product stewardship (3 Rs) strategies to reduce and manage their use and promote the adoption of reusable bags.

The Facts

  • Canadians are deeply committed to product stewardship (the 3 Rs) and responsible use of bags which has made bag bans unnecessary.
  • From a public policy perspective, the trend in bag management has been toward collaborative, voluntary, non- legislated approaches with private sector involvement. Over the past five years, over 100 governments and associations in Canada have investigated the effectiveness of bans and taxes as reduction strategies, and have rejected them because other solutions based on the 3 Rs have proven more effective.
  • Provincial Government Voluntary 50% Reduction Strategies have been highly successful in significantly reducing the number of bags used by Canadians - by -68% in Ontario and -52% in Quebec.
  • Bans are in effect in only seven municipalities in Canada. Six are legislated (Wood Buffalo, AB; Leaf Rapids, MB; Thompson, MB; Toronto, ON [pending]; and Deux Montagnes, QC; and Hudson, QC). Tofino, BC has a voluntary ban. Two previous municipal bans have been rescinded.
  • Rescinded Bans
    • Greenstone, ON, rescinded its bag ban in 2009 following a poll of residents. Residents were found to prefer recycling, the use of reusables and the freedom to choose between options. 
    • Sioux Lookout, ON rescinded its bag ban in 2011 after one year because of its overwhelming unpopularity with residents and retailers.

More Detail

Toronto Plastic Shopping Bags

Plastic Bag Recycling TorontoRecycled Plastic ProductPlastic Muskoka Chairs

Why are bans not necessary?

Not a litter or landfill problem

Bags are a necessity

The alternatives to plastic bags are not better

Economic Impacts on Jobs

Strategies to Manage and Reduce the Number of Bags (also see section on Reduction) 

1. Voluntary Provincial Reduction Strategies achieve 50%+ reductions
2. Bag Fees are highly effective
3. Bag Bans are not standard public policy because bags are necessary and the public does not accept total bans

1. Voluntary Provincial Government Reduction Strategies – Highly Successful

2. Bag Fees – Driven primarily by the private sector and highly effective.