Toronto's In-Store Packaging Proposals Threaten Families with $400 Increase in Food Bills, Businesses with Competitive Disadvantages, Communities with Job Losses


    TORONTO, Nov. 11 /CNW/ - Toronto is considering a range of in-store
packaging initiatives that will drive up the cost of food for residents, put
community businesses at a disadvantage, and kill local jobs.
    It is estimated that the proposals will cost retailers more than $300
million a year. These added expenses will include mandatory discounts for
customers using their own coffee cups and shopping bags, proposed bans on
plastic food containers, and administrative costs related to these and other
initiatives.
    Costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices,
increasing the average family's food bill by more than $400 a year. Those on
fixed incomes and low-income individuals and families will be particularly
hard hit. Small, community-based businesses who package food on site will
really feel the pain.
    The proposals will apply only in Toronto. As food prices rise as a result
of these measures, consumers will be motivated to travel outside the city to
do their shopping. This will put local business on an unequal playing field
with competitors in the 905 area, and will affect grocery stores, fast food
outlets, bakers, delis, butchers, and even convenience stores.
    "This is Toronto at its anti-business best," said Kevin Gaudet of the
Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). "Many of these stores and shops are
small, family-run enterprises. Together they employ a lot of people in the
community. If the city goes ahead with these intrusive initiatives, there will
be disinvestment and job losses in neighbourhoods across Toronto."
    Cathy Cirko, Vice President of the Environment and Plastics Industry
Council (EPIC), noted that "the city's report is completely silent on the
economic impacts. It doesn't talk about the costs to consumers and businesses.
And it avoids identifying what bans and incentives on different plastic food
packaging will really cost consumers. But we expect that there will be a lot
of noise once small businesses and residents understand what's in store for
them."
    "This is an indirect tax on food regardless of how City Hall tries to
spin these measures," said Gaudet. "Why would the city assume that retailers
can absorb these costs? And the costs are punitive. It is going cost consumers
$200 million to pay for the city ban on plastic food packaging alone -
materials that are perfectly recyclable - because the alternative products are
three times more expensive. It is especially galling given that most consumers
are now trying to stretch their food budgets in this period of economic
uncertainty."
    There is a better way to achieve the 0.5% waste diversion target than
punishing consumers and businesses with $300 million in additional food costs.
"The better way is recycling. All the city has to do is put in the required
sorting equipment and expand the blue bin program, and every bit of this
material could be recycled and re-manufactured, creating green jobs right here
in the province", added Cirko.
    Over the past few years, industry has invested millions of dollars in
building recycling infrastructure and establishing markets so that the used
plastic could be re-manufactured into products that can be sold across Canada
and the U.S. Consumers, too, are invested in recycling and heavily committed
to it - especially now that Toronto is imposing user fees for garbage
collection, and there is an incentive for residents to put more materials in
their blue bins.



For further information: Jesse Kohl, (416) 777-0368