Montreal says it plans to introduce a bylaw banning single-use items such as plastics and polystyrene foam containers on its territory by spring 2020.

“We know we are facing an environmental crisis. We are facing a recycling crisis as well, so we really want to reduce at the source the amount of material that goes into recycling bins, into the garbage,” said Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde, member of the Montreal Executive Committee.

The city said Wednesday it was inspired by jurisdictions such as Vancouver, which announced its own ban, likely coming next year.

Mayor Valerie Plante said her administration will hold consultations on the bylaw and would move slowly to help businesses transition.

Pollution from single-use plastics and polystyrene is a major environmental problem, Plante said in a statement. She added plastic containers can take several hundred years to decompose.

"The time when we put off decisions to protect the environment because they upset our daily habits is over," Plante said. "Time is running out and we need to act now."

Many fast-food chains have started transitioning to paper straws. McDonald's and Starbucks plan to do the same.

It’s a major move by Montreal, said Colleen Thorpe of Equiterre.

“It's targeting what it thinks it can do in the following years, and what it does it sends a signal – a signal to businesses that we have to think of solutions together,” she said.

Supermarkets like IGA and Metro already announced plans this month to serve perishable foods in reusable containers brought in by customers.

The Federation of Independent Businesses said it wishes the city would do a proper cost-benefit analysis first.

“What we asked the city of Montreal is to produce an economic impact study because it's going to have an impact not only on restaurateurs but also on grocery stores,” said Martine Hebert of the federation.

The bylaw is expected to be tabled this fall.


- With files from CTV Montreal