The city of Montreal is weighing a decision to ban single-use plastic bags – a choice that would make it the first major Canadian city to do so. The ban was recommended by the city’s environmental committee with the goal of putting it in place by Sunday, April 22 (Earth Day) in 2018. Under the recommendation, exceptions would be for hygienic bags for certain foods, medication and dry cleaning.
Last year, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre presented the idea to the city council, saying that the city should follow California’s lead in banning single-use plastic bags. Many grocery stores and retailers in Quebec charge five cents for plastic bags, and consumer usage has dropped dramatically – half of the amount used a decade ago.
“I’m firm [in my position] about that debate but I’m willing to listen,” Coderre said in an interview with The Canadian Press, acknowledging the large drop-off in usage. “Should we totally ban them or look at an in-between solution?”
The city’s environmental committee also recommended that consumers and retailers be discouraged from using items like plastic bottles and utensils, Styrofoam and more. It urged the city to work with the Quebec government to establish industry standards.
Toronto had previously voted for a plastic bag ban, but in 2012 its city council reversed course and decided not to proceed following a public outcry. Just five municipalities in Canada have legislated plastic bag bans. California voters in November 2016 will vote on a referendum to ban plastic bags statewide.