11/05/2014 02:18 EST | Updated 01/05/2015 05:59 EST

Plastic bag ban proposed by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre

Plastic bags could soon be a thing of the past in Montreal.

Mayor Denis Coderre told city council on Wednesday he wants to follow California's lead and ban Montreal businesses from using plastic bags.

Coderre has asked the executive committee member responsible for sustainable development, Réal Ménard, to begin a public consultation on the issue.

"Personally, I think we should ban them," Coderre said. "But we have to consult properly so that all players in society can contribute fully."

Opposition party Projet Montréal said the public consultation is a waste of time because the city faces much more pressing environmental problems. 

Toronto tried to ban bags

Toronto tried to ban plastic bags on Jan. 1, 2013, but backed down after a public outcry and a legal challenge. 

Environmentalist David Suzuki estimates that Canadians use between nine and 15 billion bags every year.

In Quebec, public awareness campaigns and a five-cent charge imposed by major stores have helped reduce plastic bag use by half.