Halifax Regional Council has taken an important step towards the eventual ban of single-use plastics -- notably, plastic bags.

On Tuesday, council passed a single-use plastic reduction strategy, but there's still a long way to go before an outright ban would be implemented.

Still, council wants a draft bylaw in place by end of the year.

At a downtown Dartmouth clothing store, Lucy MacLeod usually orders a lot of plastic bags.

“Anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 plastic bags would be purchased at one time,” MacLeod said.

She buys them one year in advance and these bags tend to hang around the store for a while.

“It does take about a year to go through that,” MacLeod said.

Now that Halifax Regional Council has voted to move forward with a plan that could lead to a draft bylaw that would ban plastic bags by December, MacLeod says her business is ready to make the switch to paper.

She may not have a choice.

“It would be good to be ahead of that,” said MacLeod.

But the switch would come with a cost.

“Paper bags are more expensive,” she said.

Mark Butler from the Ecology Action Centre is applauding move.

We need to deal with this plastics crisis,” Butler said. “One of the first steps is to use less of it.”

Butler says plastics have brought on an environmental issue of critical importance.

"We're talking, I don't know, 150 to 200 million bags here in HRM,” he said.

This causes litter, clogged landfills, ocean pollution, and a growing health-care issue.

“Research is showing that plastics are ending up in the food chain and in our food,” Butler said.

He is calling on all of Nova Scotia to join in and he's not alone.

Jim Cormier from the Retail Council of Canada says for this plan to work, it needs to expand beyond the borders of the region's largest city.

“Our members would prefer a provincial solution,” he said. “We've been calling for that for a number of years. We've been working hard with other municipal units to try and say ‘look, if a city the size of Halifax takes action, we need to see harmonization.”

Cormier says based on people he's been talking to, many municipalities are open to discussing a ban during the coming months.

One Halifax councillor said today that everybody agrees that they need to tackle the use of plastics, but he also called for a specific target or a numerical goal when it comes to an actual reduction.

A staff report will be brought back to council later this year.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Paul Hollingsworth.