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If you had a nickel for every time someone walked out of a grocery store with a plastic bag…

Actually, if you owned a grocery store in Toronto, Canada, you would!

Toronto has scrapped a three-year-old law that charged shoppers a nickel (that’s nearly two nickels in American currency) per plastic bag. Shoppers planning their Canada Day parties and cookouts subsequently flocked to their local grocery stores for all the free plastic bags they could carry.

Not so fast, said the stores.

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Several grocery chains say they have no plans to stop collecting the five-cent fee, even though they’re no longer required to. And they’re not being entirely forthcoming about how much they’re raking in, or what they’re doing with this stash of nickels that they no longer have to turn over to the government.

“Partial proceeds from our charge-for-plastic shopping bag program support World Wildlife Fund Canada initiatives,” one store spokesperson told the Toronto Sun newspaper. Exactly what “part” of each five-cent piece goes to help Canada’s beavers, moose and geese, she wouldn’t say.

But there’s some good news in that the fee won’t last past January. That’s because the city council has since voted to ban plastic bags altogether. Mayor Rob Ford called the ban “ludicrous”, “outright stupid” and “the dumbest thing the council has done.” His brother, a city councillor, called it “ridiculous”, “radical, leftist [and] socialist”.

Retail consultant Wendy Evans is more measured, reasoned and, well, Canadian. She tells the Globe and Mail newspaper: “I’m sure some consumers will be rather frustrated.”

Image sources here. 

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