Canada has announced bans on single-use plastics by 2021, with the government saying that plastic products like bags, straws and food containers will be off the table by 2021 while implementing new standards for recycling.
The move to implement bans on single-use plastics by 2021 was announced by Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson who said that this most recent move is a small part of the federal government’s aim of having zero plastic waste by the turn of the decade.
The policy includes a ban for single-use plastics by 2021 in Canada, which includes “plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates and stir sticks where supported by scientific evidence and warranted. In addition to this, the Federal Government says it will work with provinces to “introduce standards and targets for companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging so they become responsible for their plastic waste.”
The Environment and Climate Change Minister has said that “when a ban comes into effect, your local stores will be providing you with alternatives to these plastic products,” Wilkinson said, adding that a number of things have to change in the current supply chain, particularly with the hospitality industry and shopping in supermarkets.
“Plastic pollution threatens our natural environment,” Wilkinson said, “it fills our rivers or lakes, and most particularly our oceans, choking the wildlife that live there… Canadians see the impact that pollution has from coast to coast to coast,” he said.
The government says that without its environmental management policy, Canadians stand to throw as much as $11 billion worth of plastic products into landfill by 2030.
“They are harmful in the environment, they are difficult or costly to recycle and there are readily available alternatives,” Wilkinson said. The Canadian government estimates that Canadians consume more than 3 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, and just 9% of that figure is properly recycled.
“The rest goes to landfills or into our environment,” said the Environment Minister, pointing to statistics that say “plastic waste burdens our economy, representing a $7.8 billion lost opportunity,” that added 29,000 tonnes of waste to the environment in 2016.
While announcing the ban on traditionally difficult to recycle hard plastics, the Environment Minister did say that the government intends to retain “plastic in our economy and out of our environment,” stating that new environmental standards on recyclable plastics will allow the commercial sector to stay viable.
Canada’s plan outlines a plastics industry that is creating 100% reusable, recyclable or where viable alternatives do not exist, production of recoverable plastics by 2030. The government says the industry should aim for at least 50% recycled content in its products by the same date, and to increase the recycling rate of plastic products to at least 55% by 2030, and 100% by 2040.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that it’s “a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore,” and that “we have a responsibility to work with our partners to reduce plastic pollution, protect the environment, and create jobs and grow our economy. We owe it to our kids to keep the environment clean and safe for generations to come.”
We’ve reported recently that the UK’s plastic bag use had dropped a dramatic 95% in the space of five years, while South Australia’s state government has confirmed a ban on single use plastic items will be implemented in the state.