It's official: Manitoba town gives plastic bags the boot

It's been talked about for a few weeks, and today, it is reality.

It's been talked about for weeks and on Mondaythe northern Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids became the first municipality in Canada to ban plastic shopping bags.

Mayor Ed Cherrier said he doesn't expect any trouble enforcing the new bylaw in the town of about 550 people.

"Everybody's on board," he told CBC News. "Our Co-op store and Fields, they're really supporting our initiative.And in fact, our Co-op store has offered a challenge to all of Federated to go bag-free across Canada."

The transition started almost a year ago when the town imposed a levy on plastic shopping bags, Cherrier said.

Since September, very few one-time use plastic bags have been seen in Leaf Rapids, about 980 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

It's estimated that a traditional plastic bag takes 1,000 years to dissolve.

The new bylaw prevents retailers from selling or distributing the single-use bags. Ignoring the ban could result in a $1,000-a-day fine. In anticipation, officials have been handing out cloth shopping bags to residents.

John Roach, the assistant manager of the Co-op grocery store, told Canadian Press recently that customer feedback to the ban has been overwhelmingly positive. He said the store went through at least 2,000 plastic bags a week and the litter they created was an eyesore.

The ban idea is catching on.

Late last month, San Francisco became the first city in North America to ban the use of traditional plastic grocery bags.