Montreal to ban all plastic bags in 2020: mayor

Click to play video: 'Montreal to ban plastic bags by year end'
Montreal to ban plastic bags by year end
WATCH: Montreal is trying to step up the fight against climate change by banning all plastic bags by the end of the year. As Olivia O'Malley reports, this applies to retail and grocery stores and many hope this latest measure will help the city deal with a growing recycling crisis – Feb 5, 2020

The City of Montreal is moving to ban all plastic bags by the end of 2020.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante tasked the city’s director-general with amending the current bylaw, which bans the distribution of lightweight plastic bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns.

“I ask that we change the bylaw which is currently in force concerning the thickness and that we modify it so that it is a complete ban on plastic bags on the territory of the City of Montreal,” Plante said during a Wednesday morning executive committee meeting at city hall.

READ MORE: Montreal moves to ban plastic bags by 2018

While Plante didn’t set an exact date for the new bylaw to come into effect, she said: “It must be done in 2020.”

The mayor said the current bylaw, while well intentioned, didn’t have the desired results.

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“The city banned single-use plastic bags with the idea that people would reuse the thicker plastic bags,” she said, adding that to really make a difference, “we need to reduce at the source.”

READ MORE: Canada-wide ban on many single-use plastics on track for 2021, minister says

Plante said that while banning plastic bags won’t fix everything, it’s a concrete action in which everyone can take part.

“It’s a simple gesture to say no more plastic bags to go do our groceries, to buy our clothing. We bring our bags and we reuse,” she said.

Franck Hénot, who owns the Intermarché Boyer grocery store on Mont-Royal Avenue in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood, welcomed the news.

But he’s ahead of the curve. Hénot banned plastic bags from his store on Feb. 1.

Click to play video: 'Recycling plant shutdowns leave Montreal in crisis'
Recycling plant shutdowns leave Montreal in crisis

He gave his customers a two-month advance warning, did a poll and even organized a “bye-bye plastic bag contest” for the occasion.

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The last customer to leave the store with a plastic bag won $250 worth of food.

READ MORE: Material continues to pile up as Montreal’s recycling crisis grows

And while the ban has only been in place for a few days, he says the move has been well received by customers.

“Of the 17,000 customers I have every week, guess how many have complained,” he said. “Only two.”

But not all business owners are on board with the ban. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has expressed its reservations. The group, which describes itself as the largest group of small and medium businesses, boasts over 110,000 members.

Despite being in favour of protecting the environment, it says it wants the city to slow down.

The CFIB is calling for the implementation of a pilot-project to measure the environmental and economic impacts of the ban, as well as study its logistical implications.

Plante, for her part, said she hoped other municipalities would soon follow suit.

Small plastic bags, such as those used for fruits and vegetables, are not included in the ban announced Wednesday morning.

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In a statement to Global News, however, the mayor’s office said the matter of the smaller bags will be reviewed at a later date as the city reflects on regulations surrounding single-use plastics.

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