The Government of Canada has announced plans to phase out the use of single-use plastics by the year 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement that the federal government will be taking steps to reduce Canada’s plastics waste and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives. Working with governments and businesses across Canada, the plan is to:
- Ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021, when it is supported by scientific evidence and warranted, as well as taking other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging.
- Work with provinces and territories 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 European Union announced similar plans to ban such products back in March of this year.
“Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030,” the government statement said. “We’ve reached a defining moment, and this is a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore.”
According to the government, about one-third of plastics used in Canada are for single-use or short lived products and packaging. Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily. Every year, 640,000 tons of abandoned, lost or discarding fishing gear enters oceans, which can persist in the environment for up to 600 years.
If you’re wondering what plastics could get banned in Canada as per Ottawa’s decree, here is a brief list:
- Plastic bags (alternatives include reusable bags made from cloth or paper)
- Plastic cutlery, plates and cups (silverware or reusable plates and cups are good alternatives)
- Plastic straws (certain establishments have already switched over to paper, metal or even no straws)
- Plastic wrap (mainly used for wrapping sandwiches for lunch, alternatives could be containers or or recyclable aluminum foil)
- Plastic water bottles ( reusable glass, metal, ceramic or plant-based plastic are good alternatives)
- Plastic six-pack rings (they also have the unfortunate knack of trapping seagulls and other water animals in the rings)
- Plastic cotton buds (aka Q-Tips, but apparently there are paper based swabs available as well as bamboo versions)
- Polystyrene containers (some may be recyclable, but not all)