A new year has dawned in Montreal, and in 2018 traditional plastic bags used for grocery shopping are a big “no-no” as the city’s ban on plastic bags comes into effect.
Passed in August 2016, by-law 16-051 prohibits the distribution of “conventional” plastic shopping bags, specifically those that are less than 50 microns thick.
Oxo-degradable, oxo-fragmentable, and biodegradable shopping bags, regardless of their thickness, are also banned under the bylaw.
The ban largely affects grocery stores and purveyors of food stuffs, where plastic shopping bags are commonly used and distributed.
But not all plastic bags are banned in supermarkets. Plastic bags used to transport food items to a cashier for hygenic reasons, like fresh meat or fish, will still be allowed.
Plastic shopping bags that aren’t recycled have “a significant impact on terrestrial and marine ecosystems,” the City of Montreal website notes. The decomposition of plastic bags can take up to several hundred years.
"We don't want to see this bag in nature," said Jean-François Parenteau, executive committee member for environmental services, to CBC.
Thicker bags are more likely to be reused and recycled, said Parenteau, another incentive behind the ban.
Quebec grocery chain IGA is already offering thicker plastic bags to customers, but not for free. IGA is charging 15 cents for every thick plastic bag, triple the amount previously set for standard plastic bags.
You’ll probably still see conventional plastic bags at small grocers, however, as a six-month grace period is being given by the City of Montreal to allow businesses to adjust to the ban. As of June 5, 2018, fines will imposed on all stores that do not adhere to the plastic bag ban.
If you have any questions regarding the plastic bag ban, the City of Montreal has set up a useful FAQ page here.