The use of certain kinds of plastics in Montreal is coming to an end.
On Wednesday, city officials announced plans to enact a bylaw to restrict certain kinds of plastics from being distributed in the city.
“In 12 months, no more plastic bags whatsoever,” stressed the city’s mayor Valérie Plante at a press conference. “We don’t want those anymore. We’re done!”
By August next year, no plastic shopping bags will be distributed by retail stores, and by February 2023, other kinds of plastics will be banned, including styrofoam cups, take-out containers, polystyrene trays for fruit and vegetables as well as plastic utensils.
The delay, according to the city, is to allow stores to sell off inventory and for the packaging industry to adapt and develop new materials.
“We are working with all the merchants, all the partners to make sure that they understand the bylaw and that we can accompany them in the transition,” explained Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, the city’s executive committee member responsible for ecological transition.
Plante pointed out that it’s not enough to rely on recycling.
“For us, it’s reducing, reducing, reducing,” she said. “That’s the key.”
She added that the move is to help the city meet its zero waste target by 2030.
Karel Ménard, executive director for the Quebec Coalition for Ecological Waste, believes the move is an important first step.
“I think it is the first time that a large city such as Montreal aims for reduction at the source.”
Items not included in the ban are things like trays for wrapping meat or fish as well as single-use bags which are packaged outside a retail establishment.
Some store owners think the city needs to push the industry more.
“I think we need to focus more on the industry,” according to Robin Simon, owner of Chez Robin, a grocery store in the borough of Verdun. “Everything comes in plastic and that we cannot control.”
Ménard said the city will have to go further eventually because the problem isn’t just plastics.
Fines for violating the new plastics bylaw will range from $400 for a first offense to $4,000 for a subsequent offense.