In November 2008 the city of Toronto announced that grocery stores would soon be charging $ 0.5 a unit for plastic bags. The move was hailed as a hugely important initiative, and the announcement stressed the full collaboration and support of the corporations involved. The puppet spokesperson giving the press conference praised the enthusiastic involvement of the selfless corporate giants as a groundbreaking stepforward in philanthropy and environmentalism; "The recommendations are bold but our targets are ambitious and require bold actions." pronounced Toronto Mayor Miller.
This "initiative", for lack of a better term, because it is far from progressive, is nothing short of arrogant, hypocritical, and deceitful. It is a ploy only to make the general public victim to the false impression that the corporations are doing this for the people as a noble gesture of care and concern for the environment, when in fact it will change nothing. Their explanation is that a $ 0.5 charge on plastic bags will deter shoppers from using them because of the cost. As if the environmentally indifferent person who needs eight bags to get his groceries home is going to think twice about the $ 0.40 charge. The only measure which has worked to reduce plastic bag usage in stores is the environmentally friendly re-usable canvas bag, introduced a few years ago, which reaches only the green crowd. Those who don't care about the environment are immune to this, and so the $ 0.5 plastic bag charge will make absolutely no difference.
What makes this scheme even more laughable and insiginificant is that half of supermarkets already charge for plastic bags, and that the measure includes only grocery stores, and excludes other giant plastic bag users such as wal-mart, and many others. Through this "initiative", corporate supermarket chains and cities across North America try to pass themselves off as deities of environmental reform. Many naive people will think that this is actually a positive step forward, that it will make a difference, and that is exactly the reaction the corporations want to create. Those who have sense enough to appreciate the state of environmental emergency that the planet is currently in, however, will understand that the 5-cent plastic bag charge is an underhanded, self-serving move, and an insult to people's intelligence.
After all the hype of this ridiculous publicity stunt, the City of Toronto announced in January of 2009 that plastic bags were now recyclable.