Trudeau eyeing a Canadian ban on single-use plastics by 2021

Clay Curtis
June 13, 2019

Details of the plan have to worked out.

Canada will have a ban on single-use plastics by 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. Also, federal and provincial authorities will work together so that companies, rather than just municipalities, take more responsibility for the recycling process. We expect that the plastics industry will be doing everything in their power to water down these regulations, limit the ban list and lower the collection targets.

Canada's ban on items such as plastic bags and straws will be aligned with similar measures that the European Union and other countries have adopted, the government said.

Exactly which types of plastics will be targeted will be a science-based decision, Trudeau said.

At the moment, Canada is only recycling 10% of their plastic waste.

"Plastics are key to our modern and sustainable way of life, but they do not belong in the environment".

Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto's department of ecology and evolutionary biology, said there is no question that single-use plastics harm wildlife as they break down in the environment, with potentially toxic effects.

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The prime minister also said it's "tough trying to explain" to his children why "dead whales [are] washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags", Reuters reported. "Or albatross chicks photographed off the coast of Hawaii, their bodies filled to the brim with plastic they've mistaken for food".

On what will replace single-use plastics there was nothing, despite the fact it's a controversial area. "Making sense of this new reality for my kids isn't a struggle I face alone".

"I am very pleased to announce that as early as 2021, Canada will ban harmful, single-use plastics from coast to coast", Trudeau said, arguing Canada has a unique chance to lead the fight against plastic pollution as the country with the world's longest coastlines.

According to federal figures, about one-third of plastics used in Canada are for one-time or short-lived products and packaging, which includes up to 15 billion plastic bags used every year and close to 57 million straws used daily.

Wood Mackenzie is forecasting four per cent annual growth in global plastics demand over the next five years, driven by rising consumer standards of living in Asia, with the rate falling to less than GDP growth after 2028, he said. He said collecting and recycling more, and investing in innovation, would create 42,000 jobs and reduce 1.8 million metric tons of carbon pollution.

"Polypropylene is used in items such as life-saving medical products, fuel-reducing auto parts, textiles and packaging that can extend the life of food, resulting in less waste", she added.

"There has to be an alternative to the all the plastic going into the landfill", she said, adding how the government will need to now support "those working on things like hemp or other biodegradable plastics".

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