Mayor Rob Ford introduced a motion to eliminate a mandatory five-cent fee the city brought in three years ago. The motion passed, but so did another to eliminate plastic bags entirely by Jan. 1, 2013.
Toronto isn't the first Canadian city to ban single-use plastic bags. Fort McMurray, Alta., banned the bags in 2010. Tofino, B.C., has had a voluntary ban on plastic bags for years.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Hawaii have all banned plastic bags in the U.S., as have countries such as Italy, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Republic of Congo.
And certain retailers don't offer plastic bags at all, including Thrifty Foods in B.C., liquor stores in Ontario and Ikea stores in Canada, the U.K. and elsewhere.
A federal private members' bill tabled in 2010 proposed that Canada should ban plastic shopping bags, but it was defeated.
Toronto City Council kills plastic bag ban
Legal threats led to what advocates called a sad decision for the environment.