New legislation will come into effect on July 1, 2019 that will ban the use of plastic bags in restaurants on P.E.I. and require restaurateurs to charge customers a fee for any paper bags they require for taking food off-premise.
The legislation also prohibits the use of biodegradable or compostable checkout bags, as they are currently a contaminant to both the province’s recycling and compost streams.
What will this mean for foodservice businesses on P.E.I.?
Only after asking customers if they want a bag will businesses be permitted to offer them a recyclable paper bag for a minimum fee of 15 cents per bag. They may also give customers the option to purchase a reusable checkout bag at no less than $1.
The minimum fee per paper bag will increase to 25 cents on Jan. 1, 2020.
Restaurateurs may keep the fees collected for providing paper or reusable bags, but they are required to charge HST on these bag fees.
The requirement to ask customers if they need a bag and collect a fee per paper bag will not apply to bags used to protect prepared foods or bakery goods that are not pre-packaged. However fees must be applied to bags used to transport multiple items purchased from a business (i.e. any bag used to transport bags within a bag).
Changes secured to help restaurateurs
Working with the Department of Communities, Land and Environment, Restaurants Canada was able to secure the following changes that will address many concerns that foodservice operators had with the legislation as it was originally proposed:
- The requirement to ask customers if they need a bag and then collect fees on those bags will not be enforced on orders from outside of a restaurant — this includes drive-thru, online and telephone orders.
- The size of a “small paper bag” that will be exempt from requiring a fee is any bag with an area less than 600 sq cm (measured laying flat) — this is double the dimensions originally outlined in the Act.
- For food safety purposes, foodservice businesses will not be required to take a customer’s reusable bag into the food preparation area of the business. A business will not be required to allow customers to bring reusable bags onto their premises if they determine that the bag is a potential contaminant to the foodservice operation.
If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Atlantic Canada, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-387-5649 ext. 5000.