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    Plastic Bags

    Myths: Fact or Fiction

    Degrade in Landfill Myth

    The Single Use Myth

    Recycling

    Paper vs. Plastic Bags


    Paper vs. Plastic Studies

    Reusables Greener?

    Types of Bags

    Litter: The Facts
    Public Health

    Canada Update

    Bags Around the World

    The Oil Myth

    Made in Canada
    Ireland's Bag Tax
    Litter: The Facts

    Fiction: Plastic shopping bags are a serious litter problem in Canada.

    Fact: No. Plastic shopping bags represent less than 1% of all litter.

    The Facts

    • While litter may be a serious problem in some countries, plastic shopping bags are not considered to be a litter problem in Canada because of the strong commitment of Canadians to product stewardship (the 3 Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle) and protecting the environment.
    • Litter audit data from major Canadian municipalities shows that plastic shopping bags are less than 1% of litter.

    • The City of Toronto 2006 Litter Audit shows that plastic shopping bags were only 0.8% of the entire litter stream.

    • Both paper and plastic shopping bags, together, are still a small fraction of litter.

    • Litter is a people problem, not a litter problem. Even if you removed all the plastic shopping bag litter, 99% of the litter would still be a problem.

    More Detail

    Canadian Litter Audit Data

    ? GTA Litter Studies of Public Street Locations (Greater Toronto Area):


    Location

    Year of Litter Audit

    Total Number of Large Littered Items

    Total Number of Plastic Retail Bags in Litter

    % of Plastic Retail Bags in Litter

    Peel Region

    2003

    4,363

    3

    0.1%

    Durham Region

    2003

    5,698

    18

    0.32%

    York Region

    2003

    8,678

    34

    0.39%

    City of Toronto

    2004

    5,243

    11

    0.2%

    City of Toronto

    2006

    4,341

    6

    0.13%

     2003 Peel Region Litter Audit

    • A litter audit conducted in Peel Region in Ontario in 2003 found only three plastic bags out of 4,363 litter items (0.1%).1

     2003 Durham Region Litter Audit

    • In Durham Region's 2003 litter audit, 5,698 large items were counted, and only 18 plastic shopping bags (0.3% of the litter stream).2 

    2003 York Region Litter Audit

    • York Region's 2003 litter audit found only 34 plastic shopping bags out of 8,678 large items (0.4% of the litter stream).3

    2004 City of Toronto Litter Audit

    • The 2004 litter audit In the City of Toronto, found only 11 plastic shopping bags out of 5,243 large items in their 2004 streets litter audit (0.2% of the litter stream), while miscellaneous paper items (e.g. napkins, cardboard, paperboard) made up about 26% of all the items counted.

    2006 City of Toronto Litter Audit

    • Two years later, the 2006 City of Toronto litter audit similarly found only six plastic bags out of 4,341 items counted or 0.13% of the litter stream.
    • 2006 City of Toronto Litter Audit

    2012 City of Toronto Litter Audit

     2006 City of Toronto Litter Audit – BAG BREAKOUT
         Final Report - 07 October 2006 35, 3.2.3 Bags

         Bags Sub-Category Summary (2006)

     

    Items

    % of Sub-Category

    % of Total Litter

    Plastic Bags - not retail

     69.0

    47.4%

    1.59%

    Paper bags - fast food   

      39.5

    27.1%

    0.91%

    Paper bags - not retail     

      15.5

    10.7%

    0.36%

    Zipper bags/ sandwich  

      12.5

      8.6%

    0.29%

    Plastic retail bags

        5.5

      3.8%

    0.13%

    Paper retail bags

        3.5

      2.4%

    0.08%

     Total

    145.5

    100%

    3.35%

    2005 Observations

    238

     

    2.55%

    Litter Survey Links - Canada:

    1 Region of Peel Litter Survey 2003, MGM Management, 2003
    2 Regional Municipality of Durham Litter Survey 2003, MGM Management, 2003
    3 The Regional Municipality of York 2003 Litter Survey, MGM Management, 2003

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