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Montreal considering banning shopping bags – yay or nay?

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By Alyssa De Rosa –mtltimes.ca

Mayor Denis Coderre may be the first to put Montreal – one of Canada’s biggest metropolis’ on the map for more than just its hockey spirit and good food. Coderre is mulling over the idea of having Montreal become the first Canadian city to ban plastic bags.

Coderre proposed the idea earlier last week and more in depth talks are expected to go down in the beginning of June as members of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association are expected to arrive in Montreal for a meeting with the Mayor. He’s in favor of this “environmental move” but needs more understanding on the matter to properly make a decision, which will probably only happen in early Fall.

Pierre Dubois, sustainable development consultant with the Canadian Plastics Industry Association explains that the city may mean well but banning plastic bags is just a “simple solution to a complex problem.”

“The quantity of plastic bags that end up in landfills is minimal,” Dubois explains. “We are asking the city to do a life cycle analysis of materials that the city uses from the time the material is created to the time its life is “over” so we can properly determine the economic and environmental impact it actually has.”

Dubois goes on to explain that much of the population actually re-use plastic bags and therefore, shouldn’t be labeled “single-use.” “Some may use it as a sandwich wrapper, a lunchbox, or a book bag, so saying that they can only be used once is a misconception,” he says.

There is also a company in Quebec who develops pavement blocks using wine bottles and plastic bags. This should be a way to help people understand that recycling properly results in good use. According to statistics, in 2010, 59.2 percent of the population reused their bags, and if we consider the era we live in today and how environmentally conscious we are, we can only presume that those numbers have risen since then.

Montreal’s commerce sector and the government have been aiming towards a “plastic bag free” environment for some time now. Big chain stores like Maxi and company, IGA and Loblaws worked with the environmental department and came to an agreement between the government and these associations that they would charge clients for plastic bags. This was not a rule by any means since not all stores do this. Instead, it was the commercers trying to contribute to reducing the number of bags being used in the city. The goal was to reduce the number by half in four years and statistics showed that after only two years, the use of bags was reduced by 52 percent.

“People are very conscious of their responsibility,” Dubois explains. “Our goals it to let the government and the population understand the principle of valorisation – making the existing material useful and not wasteful.”

REDUCE. RE– USE. RECYCLE!

 

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