Montreal introduces the most ambitious single-use plastics regulation in North America

17 Aug 2021


Go back to NewsMontreal introduces the most ambitious single-use plastics regulation in North America

In an effort to achieve zero waste by 2030, a target set out in the Master Plan for Residual Materials Management (PDGMR), the City of Montreal will adopt the most ambitious single-use plastic ban in North America. With the Terrebonne landfill, the only landfill in the Montreal area, reaching its full capacity in 2029, the municipal administration takes a proactive approach in accelerating the reduction of waste at the source, thus preventing a waste management crisis.

After extensive consultation with economic and environmental partners, the City of Montréal is amending its bylaw to prohibit the distribution of all plastic shopping bags in retail outlets and will expand the scope to include restaurants and home delivery. These changes will come into effect 12 months after their adoption by City Council, scheduled for August 23. In 18 months, a new bylaw banning the distribution of certain non-recyclable and non-recycled plastic items in retail stores and restaurants will also come into effect.

The phased-in implementation of these changes will allow businesses and restaurants to focus on the economic recovery and clear their inventories. This delay will also allow the Quebec packaging industry to adapt and develop an adequate supply of reusable, recyclable and compostable items to meet the needs.

"By 2029, the only landfill site in the Montreal area will have reached its full capacity, and we are acting now, with our economic and environmental partners, to adapt our regulations to the challenges ahead. We have worked on these new regulations with all the industry players, and I am proud of the result we have achieved. These changes will be implemented gradually so as not to harm merchants, and will allow us to achieve the ambitious objectives we have set for ourselves to ensure the future of the city," said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

"Landfilling single-use plastic items has not only an environmental cost, but also a financial one for the citizens of Montreal. By encouraging new consumption habits, we are reducing plastic waste at the source. We must also give encouragement to local outlets for recycled materials, in a circular economy perspective. This will allow us to reduce our GHG emissions while also promoting the economic development of Montreal. This is why we have made the circular economy a pillar of Montreal's green and sustainable recovery," added Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, who is responsible for ecological transition and resilience, Space for Life and urban agriculture on the executive committee.

"With the guide to eco-responsible practices, published last spring, the SDC of Mount Royal Avenue is already focused on the city's ecological transition, and encourages businesses and services to become increasingly eco-responsible. We welcome this initiative from the City of Montreal, whose reasonable implementation time frame will allow us to accompany a greater number of merchants in identifying alternatives. Merchants must adapt to the challenges of the future and to the environmental expectations of their clientele, and this new regulation is a step in the right direction," said the Société de développement commercial's Executive Director.

The first objective of the City's Residual Materials Management Master Plan 2020-2025 is to reduce the amount of residual materials generated at the source. Montreal is also committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

The Economic Development Department is already providing technical support, tools and financing to help merchants and manufacturers make the transition.

Remember that plastics represent an environmental problem when they do not reach the recycling process at their end of their life. Their breakdown in a landfill can take several hundred years. In addition to being a visual nuisance, discarded plastics leave a heavy ecological footprint on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and represent significant costs related to waste management and urban cleanliness.