We know it’s not good for the environment, but people still LOVE PLASTIC.

That’s why it is somewhat of a shock that Montreal is considering banning plastic bags entirely which would make it first major Canadian metropolis to do so.  Toronto tried to the measure a few years ago but it resulted in an epic fail.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is in favour but wants a better understanding of the situation to come out of  public consultations that have just begun and is looking at a total ban as well as an ” in between” solution.

The use of plastic bags has fallen dramatically in Quebec due to public awareness campaigns as well as a five-cent charge brought in by retailers and as a result Quebecers now use roughly a billion bags a year, less than half from a decade ago.

On the other side of the coin is Pierre Dubois, a sustainable development consultant with the Canadian Plastics Industry Association who says: “We think a ban is probably the worst way to solve environmental problems.”

Dubois said a bag ban would create other problems. If consumers forget their reusable cloth bags, paper bags and their larger carbon footprint would be the likely option at stores. Consumers who use shopping bags to dispose of waste would in turn have to purchase more bags.

He said statistics suggest about 59 per cent of Quebecers reuse shopping bags at least once or twice and that more than one-third recycle them. About seven per cent are guilty of putting them in the trash.

Montreal’s examination is taking place as bans have started in US locations like California which became the first U.S. state to adopt a ban on single-use bags .

Hundreds of cities in California have plastic bag bylaws forbidding their use including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Large U.S. cities like Chicago, Seattle and Austin also have bans.

In 2007, Leaf Rapids, Man., became the first Canadian municipality to prohibit single-use plastic shopping bags.

Retail advocates also question how tourists in Montreal would work around not having the convenience of plastic bags.

The consultation will continue in June with recommendations expected later this year.

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