Environment

Canada joins fight against plastic waste with bans slated for 2021

Canada has announced plans to ban some single-use plastic items as early as 2021
Canada has announced plans to ban some single-use plastic items as early as 2021
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Canada has announced plans to ban some single-use plastic items as early as 2021
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Canada has announced plans to ban some single-use plastic items as early as 2021

Joining a growing contingent of lawmakers around the world, Canada's government is making moves to reduce plastic waste with bans in the pipeline concerning a range of single-use items.

The European Union, Peru, Australia and the US states of California and Hawaii are just a few examples of governments to recently ramp up the fight against plastic pollution. Some involve bans on plastic bags, others on straws and drink stirrers and others are far more sweeping and ambitious regulations that pave the way for eliminating plastics all together.

With the longest coastline in the world and a quarter of its fresh water, plastic pollution poses a big threat to Canada's marine environments, as it does elsewhere in the world. And much like elsewhere in the world, this is because very little of the plastic used in the country actually gets recycled, with the official figure offered by the government "less than 10 percent."

That makes for around CA$11 billion (US$8 billion) worth of plastic materials that are carted off to landfill and incinerators each year, a great deal of which winds up in the waterways where the damage it causes is still very much unclear.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to tackle the problem on Monday, outlining a few ways that the country will attempt to limit plastic waste. It involves promoting and supporting innovation around alternative materials and introducing rules for manufacturers of plastic products so that they take on more responsibility for the waste.

It also means banning single-use plastics such as straws, plastic bags, cutlery plates and drink stirrers as early as 2021. Though the statement is strong, it still allows for some wriggle room as the government notes that it will ban the above items "where supported by scientific evidence."

"Canadians know first-hand the impacts of plastic pollution, and are tired of seeing their beaches, parks, streets, and shorelines littered with plastic waste," says Trudeau. "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."

Source: Prime Minister of Canada

10 comments
PaleDale
Its a good start but I bet all of the countries that are trying to do the right thing are already the lowest contributors to the problem. We could reduce our plastic to zero and it would make little difference thanks to Asia.
Sergiuss
Simple prohibition is the most incompetent form of crisis management. Before the cabinet decisions one has to search deeply where the governments themselves are being relapsed, to the point where a plastic straw thrown in Australia rubbish appears floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. If the collection and processing of plastic wastes were better handled by governments, there certainly would not be so much pollution. The world without plastics is as chimerical as closing all the oil wells on Earth. Before ridiculous idea, authorities around the world should increasingly focus on promoting tailings recycling solutions and, from there, find out which are the truly polluting discards, and then outline their prohibition policies. Thinking about banning the useful and hygienic plastic straws before banning the expansion of carbon fiber products is at least giddy.
bwklast1
You have to look at the unintended consequences. A very good example is San Francisco. The homeless people used to use plastic bags to relieve themselves, San Francisco banned plastic bags and now most of the city is covered with human waste!!!!!!!!
LordInsidious
I love this and don't see why single use plastics aren't swapped out for single use biodegradables? I'd even pay extra to get to-go containers, straws, cups, cutlery etc. I can just drop in the compost when finished.
Username
"single use" seems to have been attributed to designate food consumption items. However single use packaging is a much greater source of discarded plastic.
ljaques
Hey, Justin, maybe you should make littering illegal, as well. I'd like to see mandates in all countries to catch trash of all kinds from all their waterways. Ideally, it is the individual people from all these countries who are ultimately responsible for their litter, and littering should be punished when they are not responsible. How about ten hours of public service (emptying riverine plastic catch basins) for each item of litter, in addition to the $20-$6,250 fine (which would go to creating riparian basins)? The laws are on the books, so why aren't people being dinged for this? http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/states-with-littering-penalties.aspx
christopher
Amazing how clueless some people can be. If they really wanted to deal with pollution, they could start a garbage collection service in Egypt (the Nile is how it's currently done), or net some of the rivers in Indonesia (that's how they get rid of theirs), or ask China to stop boats using the Sea and Rivers as a dump - and that's just the few I've seen FIRST-HAND.
owlbeyou
Single use bio plastics complicate and are a pain in the butt for recycling facilities. The amount of plastic in bags and straws is miniscule compared to so many other kinds of plastic use. A big prob with recycling is that it has to be profitable. Government should force producers to fork out funds to help the process and to use less plastic in packaging. Now that China and other Asian countries are refusing to take all the recycling from the West (1,500 40ft containers A DAY from the USA alone), the American and Canadian govs are freaking out with the accumulation of so much plastic (that they used to dump on China) and are disingenuously going after bags and straws like they've suddenly acquired a green conscience. So hypocritical of them, of course.
bwana4swahili
Canada could do a whole lot better if it had a consistent plastic recycling policy and action in place. We had plastic recycling until about two months ago at which time we were informed just to throw it in the garbage because the recycling program had been discontinued. Idiots!!
Colt12
I hope that one of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution is considered. Water bottles made by the billions.
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