Montreal bylaw on plastic bag ban passed

The City of Montreal passed a bylaw that will prevent stores from selling single-use plastic bags on its territory, cementing a recommendation from the city's environmental committee.

Quebec branch of Retail Council of Canada demanding a moratorium on application of bylaw

The bylaw was passed less than than nine months after the city's environmental committee recommended it. (Ross William Hamilton, The Oregonian/AP)

The City of Montreal has passed a bylaw that will prevent stores from selling single-use plastic bags on its territory, cementing a recommendation from the city's environmental committee.

The bylaw, passed Tuesday and in effect starting Jan. 1, 2018, applies to lightweight plastic shopping bags, specifically ones that are less than 50 microns (or 0.05 millimetres) thick.

The ban also applies to all types of oxo-degradable, oxo-fragmentable, oxo-biodegradable and biodegradable bags.

Certain bags, such as small plastic bags used for fresh vegetables or medication, will not be banned for hygienic reasons.

Individuals who fail to adhere to the bylaw will face fines ranging from $200 to $1,000 for a first infraction and $300 to $2,000 for any subsequent ones.

For companies, those fines can be anywhere between $400 and $4,000.

Decision a disappointment

The decision comes as a disappointment to the Retail Council of Canada, which said in a statement the bylaw was approved too quickly.

It says the majority of Montrealers reuse the bags, and that banning them in some cities and not in others makes it complicated for consumers.

"We're moving towards a regulatory patchwork that's going to complicate everyone's lives, retailers and consumers alike," said Nathalie St-Pierre, the council's vice president for Quebec.

The group is demanding a moratorium on the application of the bylaw until a report on plastic bags is released by the provincial environment ministry and Recyc-Québec.

Montreal joins Deux-Montagnes, Huntingdon and Brossard in the list of Quebec municipalities who have moved to ban plastic bags.

With files from Kristy Snell