The city of Montreal is taking tough measures to cut down on waste. Starting Jan. 1, single-use plastic bags will be banned.
City officials say that between 1.4 and 2.7 million shopping bags are circulated every year in Quebec, but only a fraction of them are recovered.
The bylaw will make Montreal the first major Canadian city to ban single-use plastic bags.
READ MORE: Montreal moves to ban plastic bags by 2018
It takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and gives individuals and merchants a six-month grace period to comply.
Some plastic bags aren’t covered by the ban like the small ones used for fresh vegetables and medication.
A handful of household names are well-prepared for the change.
IKEA no longer carries them in their stores. It sells reusable ones to its customers if they don’t come with a bag of their own.
Some small store owners in Montreal are worried that the change will hit them the hardest and upset their customers.
“The customer wants a bag. They say, ‘Give me a bag,’” said Ali Karmali, who owns a small convenience store in downtown Montreal.
Some Canadian cities will soon follow Montreal’s lead.
Victoria is introducing its own single-use plastic bag ban in July, and Halifax is looking into similar policies.
But the country still lacks a comprehensive strategy when it comes to dealing with plastic bags according to Ashely Wallis of Environmental Defence.
While some Montrealers are worried about the ban and question whether it will make a difference, others feel the city is playing catchup.
“Kenya had banned all plastic bags in their country. So I feel like it’s about time that Canada joins in, Montreal joins in,” said Miriam Moufide, a Montreal resident.
Kenya’s ban is perhaps the strictest in the world. Anyone making, selling or using plastic bags could face four years in prison or a $47,000 fine.
WATCH: Could Canada have a plastic bag ban as strict as Kenya?
In Montreal, individuals could be fined up to $2,000 and corporations up to $4,000 if they don’t follow the new rules.
But in Canada, no one is getting locked up over plastic bags just yet.