By this time next year, most single-use plastics could be banned from restaurants and grocery stores in Montreal.
While exact details of the ban are still under discussion, it is expected to include Styrofoam containers, drinking straws, plastic utensils and any other forms of single-use food packaging.
That will mean some significant changes. Restaurants will have to rethink their take-out containers, and grocery stores will have to find alternatives to traditional packaging methods for meat and fish.
“We know that we are facing an environmental crisis,” Coun. Laurence Lavigne Lalonde told CTV Montreal.
“We really want to reduce … the amount of material that goes into the recycling bins, into the garbage.”
A draft version of the bylaw banning single-use plastics is expected to be made public this fall. Lavigne Lalonde said public consultations will take place before the bylaw takes effect, which she expects to happen next April.
The city’s business community seems willing to accept the new restrictions in principle, despite some fears about the so-far-unknown specifics.
“It’s our children [who] are going to pay the price later on. We know that we have to do something,” said Billy Gogas, co-owner of the restaurant Lafayette.
What worries Gogas is the availability of environmentally friendly packaging for take-out and delivery food, and whether it will be inexpensive enough that his restaurant can avoid price increases.
“They have to come up with a good alternative for the people in the restaurant business to accept this,” he said.
Those concerns were echoed by Canadian Federation of Independent Business vice-president Martine Hebert, who expressed uneasiness about the one-year time period until implementation and the lack of details about exactly which plastics will be affected.
“There is going to be an impact. What we don’t know right now, and what we’re trying to evaluate, is how much it’s going to cost,” she said.