Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being criticized after appearing to have plastic cutlery during a meeting, despite his government’s plan to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.

He tweeted a photo of his meeting with the youth council in his Quebec riding, in which a pile of plastic cutlery can be seen on the table.

Single-use cutlery is among the world’s biggest non-biodegradable sources of garbage.

“Always great to be back in my riding! I had a good meeting with the Papineau Youth Council today,” he wrote on Monday. “Thanks for your ideas on how we can fight climate change, advance gender equality, and make our community - and Canada - better for everyone”

The plastics pollution issue is so dire that earlier this month, the federal government pledged to ban all single-use plastics as early as 2021. At the time, Trudeau called the issue a “problem we simply can’t afford to ignore.”

In a statement emailed to, the Prime Minister's Office said that "the utensils will be re-used." 

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna came to Trudeau’s defence on CTV’s Power Play Tuesday, telling host Don Martin “it happens to everyone.”

“You’re in a situation, you’re doing it [a meeting] quickly, you use plastics…I know the prime minister thinks we need to do better, I think we need to do better,” she said.

According to a statement from the federal government, less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled and, without any change, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.

Because of the urgency of the situation, some said the irony in the photo was thick enough to cut with a knife.

One Twitter user wrote that the pile of plastic forks and knives in the photo might as well be called a “pile of hypocrisy.”

He also called out the prime minister for appearing to need a fork and knife to eat pizza.

Another person asked: “Why does a meeting to discuss climate change display single-use plastic cutlery?” The photo was also quickly turned into memes.

The federal government is still in the process of determining which types of plastics are the most harmful and will be included in the ban.

The move follows a similar one by the European Union which is forcing all member states to outlaw single-use plastic cutlery, straws, stir-sticks and cotton swabs by 2021. The United Kingdom is planning to ban the same items.


Trudeau has said his planned plastics ban will help meet Canada’s emission-reduction targets under the Paris Agreement, calling it a “defining moment.”

When the ban was officially announced, Trudeau asked people to imagine future camping trips but surrounded by dead wildlife, shopping bags and coffee cup lids.

“That’s the fate of our kids if we don’t act,” he told reporters in Mont-Saint-Hillaire, Que., adding he and his family had made steps to cut down on waste such as plastic water bottles.

About one-third of the plastics used in Canada are for single-use or short-lived products and packaging, including up to 15 billion plastic bags used every year and close to 57 million straws used daily.

Each year, an estimated 150 million tons of discarded plastics – or one garbage truckload every minute -- is dumped into the world’s oceans, according to the federal government.

But this latest faux-pas hasn’t been the only climate-change criticism Trudeau has received.

Last Monday, the House of Commons voted to recognize a climate emergency in Canada mere hours before the federal government decided to approve the hotly-contested Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

With a file from’s Meredith MacLeod