"It breaks my heart when you walk downtown, and you see that all the garbage [bins] are filled with those single-use plastic containers. We need to do something," said Plante.
"We feel the population is there; we feel many business owners are ready to make this shift, and we want to support them," she said. "We're here to help."
"Montreal is going to war with single-use containers and excess packaging," said Coun. Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, the executive committee member in charge of ecological transition and resilience.
She said the city will study reasonable alternative packaging and containers, which could include 100 per cent compostable containers, or reusable, washable containers.
The Quebec Restaurants Association, which represents more than 5,000 mostly independent restaurants across the province, said it was open to discussing the idea and will participate in the city's public consultations.
"The problem can be the cost," association spokesperson Martin Vézina told CBC. "We see that some environmental alternatives can be costlier than the plastic that we already use."
"We need to be sure that companies that can provide new alternatives to straws and utensils can provide them at a cost that is competitive with plastics," Vézina said.
The association preferred the idea of compostable, single-use containers to reuseable, washable containers, he said.
A system of collecting and washing reusable containers could be complicated and hard to implement, said Vézina.
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A bylaw is to target everything from straws and Styrofoam cups to disposable utensils and food packaging — but not plastic water bottles.
A Greenpeace spokesperson says the city isnt moving fast enough to ban throw-away plastic items. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante wants to ban single-use plastic items like straws, Styrofoam cups, disposable cutlery and grocery-store food packaging for meat, fish and vegetables.
A bylaw is to be tabled in the spring of 2020 following public consultations, she announced Wednesday.
“My administration is taking an important step to make our city and our world a greener one for future generations,” Plante told a news conference at city hall.
“This step is the first in a series that we’ll take in the days to come. We want to eliminate the use of single-use (plastic) products in Montreal.”
Products being targeted include Styrofoam cups, plates and containers, disposable plastic cups, plastic utensils and take-away containers.
Plastic water bottles will not be included — at least not initially, Plante said. “Maybe it’ll take a while before the bigger companies jump in. But we’ll be pushing the agenda.”
“The city is going to war against single-use plastic products and packaging,” said city councillor Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, in charge of ecological transition and resilience for the Plante administration.
The city is to hold a public consultation in the winter of 2020, with a bylaw to follow in the spring.
“It’s encouraging to see that Montreal is serious about either banning or severely reducing single-use plastics,” Philippa Duchastel de Montrouge said. “But we also continuously see whales that are washing ashore with their guts full of throw-away plastic items. So I think that’s a real indicator that we can’t wait until 2020 to pass these kinds of regulations, and we need to immediately ban the most problematic of these plastics, like food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic lids, plastic shopping bags, and straws.
“We definitely need to see the decision-making process be accelerated. Obviously consultation should happen but we’ve known about this pollution crisis for a long time, so consultations should have been done.
“Unfortunately Montreal’s late to the game. If we want to see a comprehensive policy come out of Montreal, it needs to not only be about banning these plastics but also one that’s requiring corporations to take full responsibility for the waste.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business released a statement saying the Plante administration should do a study of the economic impact of banning plastic items before starting public consultations.
“How is the city going to define the products that are affected by the bylaw,” Martine Hébert, executive vice-president of the business group, says in the statement.
“Will all products that are sold in businesses like juice bottles and shampoo bottles be banned? Will some companies have to change their packing just for the Montreal market? You have to have an overall vision for the plan to counteract the negative impacts of the bylaw on businesses.”
Plante said businesses will be consulted to ensure they will be able to work within the rules of the bylaw.
“Of course the city is committed to developing a strategy to support companies that will be affected by these new standards,” Plante said.
“There’s different options,” she said. “Is it bring your own cup? Is it using material that is compostable? What I’m hoping … is that all of us together need to make those requests to those companies that we like to go to and say: ‘You need to adapt to what’s going on.’
“Because big cities are leading the way. … There are different options. That’s exactly what this bylaw is about. To look at different options, to make proposals, and to bring consciousness about what needs to be done.”