Montreal kicked off the New Year by taking a big step forward for the environment by banning plastic bags in the city.
While former mayor Denis Coderre announced the ban in February 2016, it was only officially implemented on Monday, and merchants will have six months to adapt to the new policy.
“We use roughly 2 billion of these bags annually and only 14%t are reintegrated in recycling plants,” Jean-Francois Parenteau, city council member responsible for the environment, told the Toronto Star.
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Leaders hope the ban will incite people to use reusable bags and avoid using one-time use plastic products.
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association argues that plastic bag bans are unnecessary, stating that these bags can be used multiple times and can be recycled. Their website states that “93% of plastic bags are reused and recycled” and that when done so, plastic bags can provide a sustainable solution.
City officials, however, say that lost plastic bags in the city are not visually appealing, and they cause harm to ecosystems and finish up in landfills, according to the Toronto Star.
Thicker plastic bags will still be allowed.
Parenteau believes that thicker bags are more likely to be reused and recycled — he told CBC that only 14% of the lighter bags are recycled.
After June 5, first-time offending merchants in Montreal could face fines of up to $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a corporation.
The city of Victoria has also announced it will implement a plastic bag ban in July 2018.
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