Canada intends to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday at the Gault Nature Reserve in Mont St-Hilaire, south of Montreal.
While details on how exactly the ban will be carried out are not yet clear, Trudeau said the government will explore which items need to be banned and will conduct research to determine the best way forward,
Less than 10% of plastic used in Canada gets recycled, and Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. What’s more, about one-third of plastics are used for single-use or short-lived products, according to the government.
“Canadians know first-hand the impacts of plastic pollution, and are tired of seeing their beaches, parks, streets, and shorelines littered with plastic waste,” Trudeau said in a statement. “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.”
Single-use plastic products include items like straws, water bottles, plastic bags, cutlery, and take-out food containers — and they all wreak havoc on marine life when they make their way into the oceans.
Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used in Canada every year and 57 million straws are used every single day.
Canadians are tired of seeing our beaches, parks, streets, and shorelines littered with plastic waste. Learn more about the action we’re taking to ban harmful single-use plastics: https://t.co/GZBt0K10Nt#BeatPlasticPollutionpic.twitter.com/eZ0yT8ckY5— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 10, 2019
“We’ve all seen the disturbing images of fish, sea turtles, whales, and other wildlife being injured or dying because of plastic garbage in our oceans. Canadians expect us to act,” the Hon. Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change, said in a statement.
One million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals get hurt or die when they mistake plastic for food or become entangled, according to the government’s statement.
Trudeau announced that the government will work provinces and territories to come up with suitable standards and goals for companies that manufacture plastic products or sell products with plastic packaging.
Banning single-use plastics is part of a global trend to reduce plastic waste: Kenya, Rwanda, and Morocco have all banned plastic bags, Taiwan has banned multiple single-use plastics, and France banned plastic cups, plates, and cutlery back in 2016.
New investments and solutions could reduce 1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution, according to the government.
At the G7 Summit in Canada last June, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the European Union signed on to the Ocean Plastics charter, which committed them to finding ways to tackle marine plastics litter.