Montreal urged to ban plastic shopping bags by 2018

Montreal should ban the use of plastic bags by Earth Day in 2018 in favour of reusable or recyclable bags, the city's environmental committee has recommended.

City releases recommendations after studying impact of proposal

The City of Montreal held public consultations last spring to determine whether or not single-use plastic grocery bags should be a thing of the past. (CBC)

Montreal should ban the use of plastic bags by Earth Day in 2018 in favour of reusable or recyclable bags, the city's environmental committee has recommended.

A meeting to adopt the recommendations on Tuesday came a few months after public consultations were held on the matter.

The 12 recommendations by the commission include:

  • That city council ban plastic bags starting on April 22, 2018, in favour of reusable or recyclable bags.
  • That exceptions be made for hygienic bags used to handle food, carry medication and dry cleaning.
  • That the City of Montreal work with the Quebec government to establish industrial norms to ensure new bags are recyclable.
  • A communication plan to prepare residents and businesses for the transition.
  • Encourage the reduction of plastic water bottles, single-use plates and utensils.

Business group raises concern

The recommendations were criticized by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents small and mid-sized companies.

The group said a ban could cause consumers to buy less or nothing at all if they don't happen to have a bag on them.

The federation also said that a normal plastic bags can be reused, and the onus is on the consumer to reuse rather than dispose of them.

The idea to ban single-use plastic bags was first put forward by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre a year ago.

"Personally, I think we should ban them...but we have to consult properly so that all players in society can contribute fully," Coderre said back in November 2014.

Coderre said he would like to follow California's lead, where hundreds of cities in the state have plastic bag bylaws forbidding their use, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Large U.S. cities like Chicago, Seattle and Austin also have bans.

Quebecers using fewer plastic bags

The use of plastic bags has fallen dramatically in Quebec due to public awareness campaigns as well as a five-cent charge brought in by retailers.

Quebecers now use roughly a billion bags a year, less than half compared to a decade ago.

Plastic bags are already banned in some smaller Quebec municipalities, namely Huntingdon and Deux-Montagnes.

In Canada, Leaf Rapids, Man., became the first municipality to prohibit single-use plastic shopping bags.

Toronto tried to ban plastic bags on Jan. 1, 2013, but backed down after a public outcry and a legal challenge.


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