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Toronto's plastic bag tax ends Sunday

Beginning Sunday, retailers in Toronto will no longer have to charge shoppers the mandatory five-cent fee for plastic bags.

The three-year-old plastic fee bylaw was rescinded by Toronto city council last month at its regular monthly meeting.

The city says the five-cent fee decreased plastic bag use by 53 per cent since it was adopted under former mayor David Miller in 2009.

“Consumer behavior has changed and plastic carry-out shopping bags are 100% recyclable,” Mayor Rob Ford said in a release. “It will now be up to retailers to decide how they run their businesses and if they choose to charge for plastic bags in their stores.”

While several smaller independent grocers say they will provide complimentary bags to customers, most larger chain stores such as Loblaw and Sobeys say they will continue to charge the fee, according to the Toronto Star.

The city estimates that retailers collect about $5.4 million from the fee every year, but the money doesn’t go into its coffers. The mayor had proposed that major retailers consider donating a portion of their bag fee profits to the city’s tree canopy program.

In a separate vote last month, council voted to ban plastic bags effective Jan. 1, 2013.