Valérie Plante says Montreal will ban all plastic shopping bags at retail outlets this year

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the city is going to modify its plastic shopping bag bylaw to ban the bags in all shapes and forms by the end of this year.

After lightweight shopping bags were banned in 2018, retailers began offering thicker ones

Montreal banned lightweight plastic bags in 2016, but retailers were still allowed to sell thicker ones. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the city is going to modify its plastic shopping bag bylaw to ban the bags in all shapes and forms by the end of this year.

"We can't wait 1,000 years to make decisions," Plante wrote on Twitter.

Plante announced the proposed change at the city's executive committee meeting Wednesday morning. 

"We have a bylaw that we can change quickly," she said. "This is the last year with plastic bags in Montreal, I think that's what we have to say." 

"It's not what's going to fix everything, but it's a concrete gesture, and that's what's fabulous."

Habits haven't changed, says councillor

In 2016, the previous municipal administration passed a bylaw banning single-use plastic shopping bags less than 50 microns (or 0.05 millimetres) thick.

After the ban went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, retailers began offering thicker bags not covered by the bylaw for a small fee.

"It didn't really change the habits of citizens," said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, Projet Montréal's councillor responsible for the city's ecological transition. "We have to take strong action right now to face those issues."

Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, the city's executive committee member responsible for the city's ecological transition, says the 2016 plastic bag bylaw hasn't changed people's habits that much. (Radio-Canada)

Lavigne Lalonde said Montreal doesn't want to simply manage its waste better, but reduce the production of waste altogether. 

"What we're seeing is that if you go to any supermarket, they still keep asking you if you want plastic bags," she said.

Karel Mayrand, the head of the Quebec arm of the David Suzuki Foundation, called it "great news."

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, however, urged Montreal to measure the economic and environmental impact of such a move with a pilot project before making the change.

The announcement comes days after the Retail Council of Canada called on the Quebec government to impose a provincewide ban on all plastic shopping bags.

The Trudeau government has also promised a countrywide ban on single-use plastics — which could include shopping bags, straws and cutlery — as early as 2021.


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