The City of Calgary is launching a media campout next week to raise awareness among businesses about its Single-Use Items Charter bylaw, which comes into force on January 16, 2024.
Between September 15 and December 15, 2023, radio, print, digital and social media advertisements will be broadcast explaining the changes and fines a*sociated with the regulation. Direct letters were mailed to businesses this week as part of the awareness campaign, prompting a Calgary pharmacy to come up with a creative solution.
“We are asking (customers) to donate their excess reusable bags so we can repackage our items and deliver them in reusable bags,” explained Wendy Huang, home care consultant at Kenron Pharmacy.
Kenron is an Alberta provider of daily living aids and provides medical supplies to people with long-term disabilities and chronic illnesses. Huang says shopping bags with handles are essential for carrying supplies and provide discretion for more personal purchases, but the pharmacy didn’t want to make new bags for checkout.
“We think producing more shopping bags would just be wasteful and everyone says they have tons of reusable shopping bags at home,” Huang said.
The program asks people to donate additional reusable bags which are then disinfected and used by customers in-store or for deliveries. Because they are donated, there is no charge for customers to take the bags home.
“We need to let (patients) know that if you receive your Kenron deliveries in a Walmart bag, don’t be afraid, it’s still your business,” Huang said.
The Single-Use Items Charter Regulation states that businesses can only provide shopping bags if a customer requests one, if staff asks if the customer needs a bag, or if a customer responds to a prompt on an ordering platform. Businesses will also have to charge a minimum of 15 cents for paper bags and one dollar for reusable bags. The fine for non-compliance with the regulations is $250.
The regulation applies to any business providing new or reusable bags, including grocery and convenience stores, retail stores, fast food restaurants, restaurants, cafes, bars and coffee shops.
Jesse Mann owns Saffron Street at First Street Market and says the bylaw is a good thing, but as a takeaway restaurant it presents unique challenges.
“A lot of our curries have to be put in a plastic container, they can’t be put in a candy cane type container or the curry will leak everywhere,” Mann explained. “So that’s one of the things we’re most concerned about: what we use as a vessel to serve our food.”
Mann says having a few months to prepare for changes is helpful when finding new packaging. He expects to receive many questions from customers in the coming weeks and must determine how he will pa*s on the costs, since most alternatives to plastic are more expensive.
Despite the added cost, Mann thinks the settlement is a good thing.
“I think we needed to change anyway,” Mann said. “The plastic stuff, we had to get rid of anyway, so it’s more: who’s going to supply us with the other product?”
Further information on the bylaw can be found on the City of Calgary website. A consumer media campaign will run from November to January.
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