The city of Montreal is taking tough measures to cut down on waste. Starting Jan. 1, single-use plastic bags will be banned. City officials say that between 1.4 and 2.7 million shopping bags are circulated every year in Quebec, but only a fraction of them are recovered. These lost or abandoned plastic bags are a visual nuisance that cause considerable harm to terrestrial and marine ecosystems and often end up in landfills.
“We use roughly 2 billion of these bags annually and only 14 per cent are reintegrated in recycling plants,” said Jean-François Parenteau, the city council member responsible for the environment. The ban is intended to encourage people to move away from single-use products and to adopt reusable bags.
It takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and gives individuals and merchants a six-month grace period to comply.
Some plastic bags aren’t covered by the ban like the small ones used for fresh vegetables and medication. Thicker plastic bags, paper bags and cardboard boxes will also be allowed.
Since most large chains had already placed large orders for bags in advance, they have been given till January 1st to respond.
In Montreal, individuals could be fined up to $2,000 and corporations up to $4,000 if they don’t follow the new rules. But in Canada, no one is getting locked up over plastic bags just yet.
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