In 2019, Canada made a public commitment to achieving zero plastic waste by 2030, hot off the heels of them launching the Ocean Plastics Charter at the 2018 G7 Summit. A key part of the plan includes a single-use plastic ban in Canada by 2021, but few details were shared until October 2020. Here’s what has recently been announced, what the plan covers, and the next steps!
Firstly, what’s the impact of single use plastic in Canada?
Every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, of which only 9% is recycled. The vast majority ends up in landfills and ~29,000 tonnes stay at large in our natural environment.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, stated that “Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030. We’ve reached a defining moment, and this is a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore.”
The government believes that an estimated 1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution can be reduced by improving the plastic management systems and investing in new solutions.
So what does the single use plastic ban cover?
In October, Canada announced the six items to be included in the single-use plastic ban as early as 2021!
Canada is proposing to ban these single-use plastic items:
• checkout bags
• stir sticks
• six-pack rings
• food ware
The plan also plans to improve how we recover and recycle plastic, so it stays out of the natural environment, as well as establishing recycled content requirements in products and packaging.
They also announced over $2M in funding for 14 new Canadian-led plastic reduction initiatives through the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative. “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.”
What’s next for the plastic ban in Canada?
As it turns out, nothing is finalised yet and the Canadian government is asking for feedback. Not only are the six items covered by the single-use plastic ban still to be confirmed, but the dates that all this will be put into action are still fuzzy.
In fact, the government is accepting comments on the proposed solutions until 9 December 2020 in order to finalise the regulations by the end of 2021.
So what do I think about this plastic ban?
Well, it’s definitely a great next step. I’m proud that my country is thinking hard about not only what we are allowing to be produced but also about how we regulate and recycle what’s already out there. That said, I think the language around the currently proposed solutions needs to be further clarified. Hear me out.
The way the government wrote their release is as follows: “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.”
Anyone else curious about what is defined as “hard-to-recycle plastics”? And does that apply to all six of the items in the list or just the food ware? And what exceptions will be made?
Like is this ban only going to cover the types of plastics which aren’t currently recyclable or actually going to include all of these items if made in plastic? I’m still not clear on this, and I really hope they make sure it’s all-encompassing rather than putting out a bandaid solution which only stops the
Because let’s be honest, if we’re saying that only 9% of current plastics are recycled, I’m pretty sure it’s not just the “hard to recycle” plastics that aren’t making it to the recycling plant. So only addressing those plastics won’t really make a dent.
Where does that leave us?
I’m currently drafting my response to the government and asking them to be clearer with the public. Urging them to make sure they are considering all that needs to be regulated, and also working on public education of how to recycle properly.
I personally think one of the largest problems with recycling around the world is that we’ve stopped educating our youth (and adults quite frankly) on how to do it properly. So let’s do better.
|If you’re a Canadian citizen, I urge you to do your research on the approach, and submit your comments via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org|