Montreal Considers Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

The city of Montreal has officially begun considering a proposal that would limit single-use plastic bags from being given away by retailers. The measure would make Montreal the first major city in Canada to enact such a law. The city’s mayor, Denis Coderre, has said he’s in favor of a move to limit the use of plastic bags in Montreal’s retail stores, but also said a measure like this would need further research.

“We have to think global but act local and this is one of those issues where we have to take a look at the impact on our planet,” Coderre said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “I’m firm (in my position) about that debate, but I’m willing to listen. Should we totally ban them or look at an in-between solution?”

The idea of a single-use plastic bag ban in Montreal comes as Quebec has already been quite successful at reducing use of the bags. Consumers in the province have dramatically cut back on their use of plastic bags due to public awareness campaigns as well as a five-cent charge brought on by local retailers. People in Quebec now use roughly a billion bags a year, less than half from a decade ago.

Montreal’s consideration of a single-use plastic bag ban comes after many large cities in the United States have already passed similar measures. In California, cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have enacted plastic-bag-limiting legislation, and the state government earlier this year made California the first state in the U.S. to pass a similar law. However, that measure is now on hold until a public vote about the law can take place in 2016. Other large cities in the U.S. such as Chicago, Seattle, and Austin have already passed laws that restrict retailers from handing out single-use-plastic bags to their customers. In Canada, Toronto tried and failed in 2012 to enact similar legislation, while a handful of smaller municipalities have been successful.

The Montreal city council will continue to consider proposals through June and is expected to make official recommendations later this year.