Calgarians may have to spend a few more cents with every purchase next year

On Jan. 26, 2023, Junrey Mabayao, takes a moment to pose for the camera after shopping for essentials at Walmart. Mabayao is pushing a cart with his belongings in it, as he didn’t bring his own reusable bag. (Photo by Joanna Mendoza/The Press)

Calgarians have mixed opinions on the benefits of the single-use plastic bylaw being implemented next year, which includes surcharges on checkout bags.

The bylaw is set to start in January 2024, will result in businesses charging customers an extra 15 cents for paper bags and $1 for reusable bags if they do not have their own. This initiative was proposed by Calgary’s city council to decrease single-use plastic items. This was to abide by the federal government’s target of zero plastic waste and reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The federal government announced last year that single-use items such as plastic checkout bags, straws and ring carriers that were made from harmful plastics will be prohibited for manufacture and will be banned from businesses for sale.

Plastic items such as forks, spoons and knives will also not be provided upon ordering and will only be available upon request. All prohibitions will be applied by the city next year, and the list of banned items are on the Government of Canada’s website.

Now what do Calgarians thinks of this bylaw?

Although the bylaw is set to start next year, the prohibition has been observed in several stores in Calgary already. Retail and grocery stores such as Walmart, T&T, Ardene and Real Canadian Superstore started charging for reusable bags as early of 2022.

Patricia Donor, a Calgarian who shops at Walmart, supports the bylaw.

“I’m OK with it,” said Donor. “Because [for] example Walmart, they don’t have plastic bags anymore and it encourages me to bring my own bags, which is very eco-friendly.”

Another Walmart shopper, Meriel Bacon, says that the process of switching to zero-plastic could bring a mix of positive and negative results.

“As a resident of Calgary, I care about the place we’re living. So, I approve of it since this is a goal that we can achieve if we commit to it as soon as possible,” she said. “And if we just see the bigger picture, and the future, we’ll see the reduction of plastic to be beneficial to our environment.

“We think of the outcome as the positive but the process of it would be the cons,” she continued. “Let’s say if the consumer is frugal and then they’re like, I’m not willing to buy a bag for 15 cents.”

Although there are plenty of Calgarians who are for the bylaw, there are also some who are against it.

A recent post on the subreddit, r/Calgary, gained attention from many Calgarians. It said a man named Arvindh Raman had been charged five cents without his knowledge while buying a sandwich from Subway.

“It’s funny how the onus is always on the consumer and not ever on the industry, even though they are [the] biggest cause of pollution and waste,” wrote Raman.

Many Calgarians have left their complaints about the bylaw under the post. Discussions on whether this bylaw is good or not is an ongoing conversation that a lot of Calgarians are participating in.

On Jan. 31, 2023, a man pushing his cart loaded with reusable bags full of groceries is on his way to his car. The snow and the chilly weather made it harder for the man to push his heavy cart. (Photo by Joanna Mendoza/The Press)


About Joanna Mendoza 6 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Joanna Mendoza is working as a writer for The Press in 2023.