Finally, Montreal eliminates a major contaminant at the source: single-use plastic bags!
It’s a done deal since September 27, 2022: Montreal retailers can no longer offer single-use plastic bags to their customers, good news for the quality of materials sorted at sorting centres in Montreal.
The issue of single-use plastic bags in sorting centres is not new. Already in 2013, a study by the Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec (CRIQ), commissioned by Recy-Québec, showed that plastic bags hinder the identification of other recyclable materials and contaminate them. In addition, they must be removed by hand from sorting lines, making them very labour-intensive and difficult to capture.
A hazard to sorting centre equipment
Plastic bags also pose a hazard to sorting centre equipment. The plastic film can get entangled in the machines, wrap around the separators, and thus cause breaks and slowdowns in the operations.
It must also be said that their production and use is already problematic. It takes just a second to make a single-use plastic bag, often far away from where it will be used, for an average of 20 minutes of use before it is— Recycled (or worse, sent to landfill). Not for nothing that it is called “single use”! If it is not very durable to use, a plastic bag will take 1,000 years to decompose! If they had existed in 1022, the plastic bags dating from the Middle Ages would have barely finished disappearing.
So good news, these bags have disappeared from Montreal stores!
But how do I bring home my purchases, you wonder?
Montreal by-law allows plastic wrap bags to transport bulk fruit, vegetables and food, reusable shopping bags and recyclable paper shopping bags.
A note on paper bags: they are appreciated in sorting centers while their plastic cousins are hated, since they are easily identifiable on the sorting line, thus easily recycled!
The best choice will always be the bag you don’t throw away, so choose reusable bags made of fabric or recycled material. Your favourite store on Montreal’s commercial arteries will be happy to offer you one, just like the City of Brossard, a pioneer in banning single-use plastic bags since 2016!
You do not live in Montreal and do not believe that this regulation concerns you? All sorting centres in Quebec, whether they are actively saying so or not, have problems with single-use plastic bags, made of low-intensity polyethylene, difficult to recycle. Don’t wait for a by-law and follow our tips to abandon single-use plastic bags today!