Single-use plastics to be banned in Canada

The Canadian government has taken another step toward banning single-use plastic items, including bags and straws, by 2030.

The government estimates that every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9% of which is recycled, meaning the vast majority of plastics end up in landfills and about 29,000 tonnes finds its way into the natural environment.

A key part of the plan is a ban on harmful single-use plastic items where there is evidence that they are found in the environment, are often not recycled, and have readily available alternatives. Based on those criteria, the six items the government proposes to ban are plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

This list of items was published today in the discussion paper Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution. In addition, the government is proposing to establish recycled content requirements in products and packaging in order to drive investment in recycling infrastructure and spur innovation in technology and product design to extend the life of plastic materials.

Comments on the proposed regulations are being accepted until December 9, 2020 and the regulations will be finalized by the end of 2021.

All federal, provincial and territorial governments have agreed to a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste that lays out a vision for a circular economy for plastics, as well as a two-phase action plan that is being jointly implemented.

In Canada, the provincial, territorial and municipal governments lead the recovery and recycling of plastic waste, so the federal government says it will work with them to strengthen existing programs and increase the country’s capacity to reuse and recover more plastics. This will include collaborating with them to develop pan-Canadian targets to ensure that rules are consistent and transparent across the country, and to make producers and sellers of plastic products responsible for collecting them.

The final Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution, which was also published today, evaluates the state of the science and looks at the presence and effects of plastic pollution on the environment and human health.

Finally, over $2M (CAD) in funding was announced through the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative for 14 new Canadian-led plastic reduction initiatives. These projects are led by communities, organizations, and institutions, and will promote the development of new and innovative solutions to prevent, capture and remove plastic pollution from the environment.

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