Single-use plastic bags could be a thing of the past in Victoria by the end of the year.

The city is expected to pass a bylaw banning the plastic in the fall. 

On Tuesday, the Vancouver Island Surfrider Foundation conducted a beach clean-up off Selkirk Point as part of plastic-free month throughout July.

The environmentalists say plastic bags are one of the most harmful man-made materials on marine life.

“Plastics don’t just go away, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces in the water,” said chapter manager Gillian Montgomery. “They photodegrade so they break up into tiny pieces and they’re a huge hazard to the marine life, 90 per cent of seabirds have ingested plastic as well as almost every sea turtle around the globe.”

Council is conducting a public education campaign this summer and will likely vote on the proposed bylaw in October.

“We’ve got a responsibility as human beings, as a community, as a city to clean up our act quite literally so that the ocean is clean for generations to come,” said Victoria mayor Lisa Helps.

The mayor adds it’s not just bad for the environment.

“You know it’s really bad for business when there’s a bag with your logo on it strewn across the beach,” she said.

If approved, stores wouldn’t offer plastic and shoppers would pay a small fee for paper bags.

The Surfrider Foundation is offering a free screening of the documentary film “Bag It” at City Hall on Wednesday at 7 p.m.