Single-use plastic: What you need to know about legislation

Last updated February 2, 2023
Reading time: 1 min

Montréal has passed a by-law banning certain single-use plastic items in restaurants and other food establishments. The by-law will come into force on March 28, 2023 but, in the meantime, establishments can begin the transition toward compliance.

What is a single-use plastic item?

This means a plastic item that is used to package or consume a food item, distributed individually and intended to be used only once or for a short period of time before being discarded or recycled.

Overview of the by-law

The by-law prohibits the distribution of several single-use plastics in Montréal grocery stores and restaurants, whether for on-site consumption, pick-up or delivery.

Single-use plastics include the following items:

All plastics, compostable or not

  • cups
  • glasses
  • straws
  • utensils for on-site consumption*

* Utensils can only be distributed if clients ask for them.

Polystyrene (no. 6) and compostable plastics (no. 7 PLA and PHA)

  • plates
  • containers
  • covers
  • trays (except those used for not-ready-to-eat meat and fish in the case of number 6 plastic)
  • utensils for take-out and delivery

Exceptions

The prohibitions do not apply to:

  • Establishments that offer only delivery service. For example: caterers who deliver themselves or through an intermediary; grocery stores that do not receive the public on their premises and deliver directly to the consumer themselves or through an intermediary.
  • Non-profit organizations whose mission includes food distribution. For example: charities that distribute food or meals to vulnerable people.

Alternatives

There are a number of practical tips available for merchants and restaurant owners in the Guichet unique pour la transition alimentaire (in French) to help them make the transition, including alternative solutions to prohibited items, a guide to good practices and a directory of resources.

You can also consult the Best practices guide to reducing food packaging and waste (in French) developed by Concertation Montréal in collaboration with the GUTA.

Any questions? Contact Affaires Montréal.