Liberals plan to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021: source
The Liberal government will announce on Monday that it intends to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021, a source tells CTV News.
The exact products that will be banned in Canada will be determined after public consultations, according to the source.
The move follows a plan by the European Union to force 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.
The announcement, expected to be delivered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal, comes amid growing concern about plastic polluting global oceans.
Tim Gray, director of the charity Environmental Defence Canada, told CTV News Channel that the ban could include things like disposable cutlery, plastic straws, some plastic bags, Styrofoam containers and black plastic takeout containers. He said those items could be replaced with re-usable things or disposable products that are biodegradable, such as straws made from paper or food containers made from plants.
Gray said he hopes the federal government will go even further and require that those plastic products which are not banned contain a minimum amount of recycled content.
“It’s clear that we have a plastics crisis in Canada ... it’s a global problem,” he said. “People have seen the dead whales washing up on the beach with plastic in their stomachs. We see plastic washing up on the shores of our oceans and our Great Lakes. We see it in the streets.”
“People are very frustrated,” he added. “They can’t seem to avoid getting all of this disposable plastic because it’s cheap.”
Jordan Keenan of Plastic Oceans Foundation Canada says the change won’t be easy for Canada’s plastic industry – which supports close to 100,000 Canadian jobs – to swallow.
But Keenan says the decision is “long overdue.”
“I think it's an excellent opportunity for them to innovate and create new products that will be environmentally friendly while also bringing convenience to the Canadian consumer,” he said.
Last year, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union adopted the Ocean Plastics Charter, which commits to moving “toward a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to the management of plastics.” That includes “working with industry towards 100 per cent reusable, recyclable, or, where viable alternatives do not exist, recoverable, plastics by 2030.” The U.S., Japan and China have not signed.
An estimated 150 million tonnes of discarded plastics are dumped into oceans worldwide annually, according to the federal government.
Shopping bags, straws, plastic utensils and take-out containers make up more than a third of Canada’s plastic waste, the government says. Less than 11 per cent of plastics are recycled in Canada. About nine per cent are recycled globally.
Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips has also said his government was considering a ban, telling The Canadian Press in March that “plastics is a priority from the government’s point of view, particularly as we talk about plastics in our waterways.”