Montreal implemented its long-planned ban on plastic bags on Monday, making it the first major Canadian city to do so.
The ban covers the distribution of lightweight plastic bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns as well as biodegradable bags, which contain an additive that causes them to decompose in heat and light.
There is an exception for the thin bags that are used in grocery stores to transport fruit and vegetables to the cash register or to wrap up meat.
City officials say lost or abandoned plastic bags are a visual nuisance that cause considerable harm to terrestrial and marine ecosystems and often end up in landfills.
“We use roughly 2 billion of these bags annually and only 14 per cent are reintegrated in recycling plants,” said Jean-François Parenteau, the city council member responsible for the environment.