Canada to Prohibit Single-Use Plastics, Including Straws and Grocery Bags
The government of Canada recently announced that single-use plastics would be banned from manufacture and importation by the end of the year, as part of a massive push to eliminate plastic waste and address climate change. With a few exclusions for medical reasons, the prohibition includes checkout bags, cutlery, straws, and food-service ware made from or containing hard-to-recycle plastics. It will take effect in December 2022, and the sale of those plastic objects will be prohibited in December 2023.
The majority of the plastic waste on Canadian beaches is made up of single-use plastics. According to government figures, up to 15 billion plastic checkout bags are used each year, and around 16 million straws are used every day.
The prohibition, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will remove more than 1.3 million tonnes of plastic waste over the next decade, the equivalent of 1 million garbage bags of trash.
“We promised to ban harmful single-use plastics, and we’re keeping that promise,” Trudeau wrote in a tweet.
To address international plastic pollution, Canada will also prohibit the export of those plastics by the end of 2025.
“By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics,” said Steven Guilbeault, the federal minister of environment and climate change. “After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags.”
“With these new regulations, we’re taking a historic step forward in reducing plastic pollution and keeping our communities and the places we love clean,” Guilbeault said.
Plastics are created from petroleum and can take hundreds of years to degrade. According to a congressionally mandated report from 2021, the United States is the world's largest contributor to plastic waste.
The Interior Department said last month that single-use plastic goods would be phased out of national parks and other public places by 2032.
In a statement, Sarah King, the head of Greenpeace Canada's oceans and plastics campaign, said that while the ban is a significant step forward, "we aren't even at the starting line."
“The government needs to shift into high gear by expanding the ban list and cutting overall plastic production,” King said. “Relying on recycling for the other 95% is a denial of the scope of the crisis.”