The Recycling Council of Ontario
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Ontario Plastic Bag Reduction Task Force

In May 2007, the Ontario Plastic Bag Reduction Task Group was formed to respond to a government initiative to reduce the number of carry-out plastic bags distributed in Ontario by by 50% by 2012.
The Task Group is led by the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD), the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO), and Retail Council of Canada (RCC).    

The goal of the Task Group is to build a strong framework for reducing the number of carry-out plastic bags distributed in Ontario through application of the 3Rs approach: REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE (3RS). Having introduced a wide range of activities across the province to support the 3Rs framework for plastic bags, the Task Group is pleased to report that the initiative has met its 50% reduction target of 2.16 billion plastic bags.


• Overall, Ontario retailers have reduced the number of carry-out plastic bags they distributed to customers by approximately 2.5 billion bags – a 58% reduction over three years. In 2009, the estimated total number of plastic bags distributed was 1.8 billion bags, compared to 4.3 billion plastic bags in 2006 (baseline).

• Ontarians have recycled more than 938 million carry-out plastic bags since 2007, using retailer and municipal recycling programs.

• An estimated total of 1.02 billion plastic bags were reused for secondary purposes (e.g., a container for garbage, organics or recyclables) in 2009.

Key factors contributing to the initiative’s success include increased availability of reusable options like reusable bags and bins, improved bagging practices at check-outs, in-store incentives encouraging reduction and recycling, more in-store collection points for recycling, increased recycled content in plastic bags where possible, and greater consumer awareness of the 3Rs.  

Recognizing the importance of transparency, the Task Group has set measurable reduction targets against a baseline calculated using 2006 data from Stewardship Ontario (for more information about the reporting methodology, see Appendix A). This report covers a two-year period from 1 January 2008, through 31 December 2009, and summarizes progress towards meeting these targets.  The report is available on the member associations’ websites. A copy will also be provided to Waste Diversion Ontario.  




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