The City of Montreal will ban all plastic bags — including the thicker ones — in retail stores this year, Mayor Valérie Plante announced Wednesday.

The mayor made the surprise announcement during the weekly meeting of the city’s executive committee.

“2020 is the last year for plastic bags in Montreal,” Plante said at the meeting, asking city director general Serge Lamontagne to start working immediately on a bylaw amendment to ban all plastic bags by the end of the year.

It will ban grocery stores, clothing boutiques and all other retailers from selling the thick plastic bags currently offered to shoppers at the cash.

Plante said members of the public have been pressing her administration to take stronger action on plastic bags and other single-use plastics, pointing to the enthusiasm generated by last September’s massive climate march led by activist Greta Thunberg.

“We have to reduce at the source,” she said.

A 2016 Montreal bylaw that came into force two years ago did not achieve the desired objective of ensuring that Montrealers remember to bring a bag when they go shopping, said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, the executive committee member responsible for ecological transition and resilience.

It barred stores from using the thin plastic shopping bags (less than 50 microns, about the thickness of a conventional black garbage bag) that were then in use. Now, stores will also be prohibited from selling the thicker ones.

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