Montreal to ban single-use plastic bags from 2018

Local business owners have criticised the move saying it will deter people from shopping locally

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The Independent US

Montreal is to ban single-use plastic bags in a bid to reduce waste, it has been announced.

The Canadian city will ban the sale of traditional plastic bags, however businesses will still be able to sell thicker ‘bags for life’ for 5 cents. Thin bags used to hold medicines, dry cleaning, fruit or vegetables will still be allowed, The Montreal Gazette reports.

The ban will come into effect in 2018. Local government has said it will run a public education programme prior to the ban to raise awareness and garner public support.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said that he hoped plastic bag usage would slowly die out. He told The Montreal Gazette: “In a few years, these plastic bags used by billions worldwide will be a thing of another era.”

However, the announcement has been met with resistance by local business owners amid concerns that it could curtail commerce. Local businesses have argued that the ban will stop people from dropping into local shops to purchase a small number of items, instead delaying until large weekly shops.

François Vincent, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said: “We are disappointed because we showed a survey to the committee that said 54 per cent of our members were against a total ban. They were for the objective of reducing plastic bags for a better environment, but they were afraid of the impact on the economy because it will cost them more.” 

Montreal was one of the first cities to introduce a 5 cent charge for plastic bag use in 2007. The measure was heralded a success, with plastic bag use reducing by 50 per cent.

In 2011, Wales introduced a plastic bag charge of 5p and subsequently saw bag use drop by 71 per cent. Scotland and Northern Ireland followed suit in 2014. In October 2015, England became the last part of the UK to extend the plastic bag charges.