Canada to ban single use plastics by 2021

In a statement on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the country’s plan to ban single use plastics such as straws, bags and cutlery by early 2021. The move comes ahead of a national election this October, which sees climate change a major focus.

 “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,” Trudeau said in press conference on the banks of a lake in Gault Nature Reserve.

 According to a ‘Plastic Facts’ poster from Waste Reduction Week Canada, Canadians dispose of approximately 3 billion single-use plastic bags and 20 billion single-use plastic straws each year. It is estimated that less than 11% of plastics in Canada are recycled, slightly higher than the 9% global average. These alarming figures reflect the impact of plastic waste on oceans, with nearly 700 species of marine animal classified as threatened, including sea turtles, seals and various species of fish and seabirds.

 The move has been praised by environmentalists and scientists, but the PM has faced backlash from many restaurant owners who claim the switch to paper based products will affect their bottom line, with costs being passed on to businesses and consumers. The Canadian Federation of Independent business has backed this concern, calling for an inquiry into the economic impacts of the ban. President of CFIB Dan Kelly emphasised that “if done hastily, this policy could add a whole lot of new red tape to their plates”.

 

Sonja Duncan