JUN 10, 2019 02:16 PM PDT

Canada Joins the Fight Against Single-Use Plastics

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

As announced today by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada aims to ban single-use plastics by 2021. Lakeside at the Gault Nature Reserve outside of Montreal, Trudeau stated “As parents, we’re at a point when we take our kids to the beach, and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam, or bottles. That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.”

According to his announcement, Canada currently recycles less than 10% of plastic waste. He also noted that Canada throws away 8 billion Canadian dollars’ worth of plastic material each year. He hopes that this legislation will reduce pollution, generate revenue through recycling materials, and create 42,000 jobs in the process. The law will make businesses responsible for the plastics that they’re manufacturing and introducing to the marketplace. The Canadian government intends to determine which single-use plastics will be eliminated scientifically.

His announcement comes a few short months after the European Union introduced single-plastic legislation in March of this year. Canada is likely to follow the example set by the EU in which 10 of the most commonly discarded single-use items were banned; including plastic cutlery, plates, plastic straws, plastic balloon sticks, and plastic cotton-swab sticks. The EU legislation also hopes to phase out plastic bottles by 2029. According to the new law, by 2025 plastic bottles must contain 25% recycled material and 30% by 2030. The European Commission estimates that more than 80% of marine litter is plastics, and the EU law covers 70% marine litter items.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year. Not only unsightly, but plastic pollution also causes harm to wildlife and when degraded into smaller particles microplastics can pollute soil, fish, fresh water, and the air. Because of this, single-use plastics bans are catching on worldwide. In February of this year, California introduced legislation to phase out single-use plastics by 2030. According to a recent report from the United Nations Environment Program, 127 countries have passed legislation to regulate plastic bags. Twenty-seven countries have passed legislation to ban specific products and impose taxes on manufacturers.

Sources: Reuters, NY Times, UNEP, European Parliament

About the Author
  • Enthusiastic science geek passionate about wildlife, wild places, and environmental issues. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, Tiffany hopes to educate and inspire the public to protect our planet.
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