Canada to ban 'harmful' single-use plastic products by 2021

Cheryl Sanders
June 13, 2019

Less than 10 per cent of plastics used in Canada are recycled, he said.

Canada will ban single-use plastics as early as 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday, adding the North American nation to a growing list of countries prohibiting the items as concerns grow about rising amounts of ocean waste.

One of Canada's largest producers of plastics says there will be plenty of room for future growth in output despite a proposal by Ottawa to ban certain single-use plastic products by 2021.

An official at Environment Canada, speaking anonymously because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said Canada's focus will be on banning things that are the most harmful, or the hardest to recycle.

Roughly 13 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, where it kills almost 100,000 marine animals each year, according to the United Nations.

"To be honest, as a dad, it's tough trying to explain this to my kids".

"How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags?" he said. "How do I tell them that against all odds, you will find plastic at the very deepest point of the Pacific Ocean". The prime minister has made protecting the environment a key tenet of his government's mandate, but it hasn't been easy. A high-profile campaign against plastic straws previous year drove numerous multi-national food and beverage companies - including A&W and Starbucks - to replace plastic straws with paper versions, and many restaurants just stopped automatically putting straws in drinks as a first step.

Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union signed on to the Ocean Plastics charter at the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., last June, agreeing to find ways to deal with marine plastics litter.

The government has not announced yet as to exactly which plastic items will be banned.

Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.

Sarah King, head of the oceans and plastics campaign at Greenpeace Canada, called it a good first step.

US states and cities are also banning various forms of plastic, with Hawaii and ME recently cracking down on polystyrene, the lightweight packaging known by the brand name Styrofoam.

Trudeau said the government will 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.

Last year, a federal court of appeals ruled that the government had failed to adequately consult with indigenous groups and halted the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline, which would almost triple the amount of western Canadian crude moved from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia.

Recycling, he said, would not only cut down on pollution but would help produce 42,000 jobs in the recycling and recovery businesses.

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