It's Official, Montreal's "Plastic Bag Ban" Will Begin In 2018

Mayor Valérie Plante previously said that Montreal’s ban on plastic bags may not come into effect next year. 

Plante said that the plastic bag ban alluded to holding off on the ban until more information on the impact of plastic bags on the environment was available. 

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That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, as the new municipal government is all set to enforce a city-wide bag on single-use plastic bags starting January 1, 2018. 

But you probably won’t notice any real change until June. 

Jean-François Parenteau, the head of Montreal’s environment committee, said that the municipal government is ready for the January deadline for the city’s plastic bag ban. But, Parenteau explained, stores and grocers will have until June 5 to comply. 

Starting January “there will be awareness campaigns” said Parenteau, reports Le Devoir. The six month period from Janruar to June will allow “merchants to adjust to the new regulations” and use up their stock of plastic bags. 

The ban will largely apply to standard single-use plastic shopping bags, which are typically less than 50 microns in thickness. Biodegradable, oxo-degradable, and oxo-fragmentable bags (no matter how thick) will also be banned. 

According to Parenteau, only 14 percent of these types of bags are recycled. Thin plastic bags, said Parenteau, heave a major impact on the local environment, getting caught in trees and entering bodies of water. 

Anyone found to be handing out plastic bags to customers (after June 5, 2018) will be slapped with a $200-$1000 fined for a first offence. A fine for subsequent offences will range between $300 and $3000. 

Stores and companies will receive larger fines for infractions. A company violating the bylaw will get a $400-$2000 fine for a first offence, and a $500-$4000 fine for any later infractions. 

But don’t get too worried if you, as a customer, aren’t used to bringing along your own bags to carry groceries or the like. If you don’t have a reusable bag on you, stores will be offering plastic bags thicker than 50 microns or just paper bags. 

Plastic bags used only to bring food items to a cashier, or those used to shield foodstuffs for hygienic reasons, will not be prohibited under the ban.