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Canada to Ban Single-use Plastics, Hold Companies Responsible

Prime Minister Trudeau announced Canada will ban single-use plastics as early as 2021 and make plastics generators responsible for their waste.

Less than 10 percent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.

That is why Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just announced that the Government of Canada is taking additional steps to reduce Canada’s plastic waste, support innovation and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives. Working with governments and businesses across Canada, the Canadian government will:

  • Ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates and stir sticks) where supported by scientific evidence and warranted and take 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.

“Canadians know firsthand the impacts of plastic pollution and are tired of seeing their beaches, parks, streets and shorelines littered with plastic waste,” said Trudeau 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.”

According to Trudeau, these measures will be grounded in scientific evidence and will align, where appropriate, with similar actions being taken in the European Union and other countries. They will also support the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s development of an action plan to implement the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.

“By improving how we manage plastic waste and investing in innovative solutions, we can reduce 1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution, generate billions of dollars in revenue and create approximately 42,000 jobs,” according to a statement released by the prime minister’s office.

Here are some facts released by Trudeau’s office:

  • Every year, Canadians throw away more than 3 million tonnes of plastic waste. This represents up to $8 billion per year in lost value and wastes valuable resources and energy.
  • About one-third of the plastics used in Canada are for single-use or short-lived products and packaging. In fact, in Canada, 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 discarded fishing gear enters oceans. It can persist in the environment for up to 600 years.
  • Every year, one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals worldwide are injured or die when they mistake plastic for food or become entangled.
  • Globally, one garbage truckload of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute, and that amount is increasing steadily.
  • Over the last 25 years, nearly 800,000 volunteers have removed more than 1.3 million kilograms of trash from across Canada’s shorelines through Ocean Wise and World Wildlife Fund’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup program, supported by the Government of Canada. The most commonly littered items on the shorelines are single-use or short-lived products, many made of plastics.
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