Canada has announced it will go plastic-free as soon as 2021, under a radical policy change from the Trudeau government.
The announcement was made by prime minister Justin Trudeau at the Gault Nature Reserve in Mont St-Hilaire, close to Montreal. “We need to cover all of Canada with this decision and that’s why the federal government is moving forward on a science-based approach to establishing which harmful single-use plastics we will be eliminating in 2021,” he said.
“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,” he continued to explain.
“That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.”
“Whether we’re talking about plastic bottles or cellphones, it will be up to businesses to take responsibility for the plastics they’re manufacturing and putting out into the world,” Trudeau declared.
According to a government source that spoke with Canadian outlet CBC the list “isn’t set in stone,” but is likely to include “items like cotton swabs, drink stirrers, plates and balloon sticks. Fast-food containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene, which is similar to white Styrofoam, will also be banned.”
Canada is also set to implement targets for large companies that sell and manufacture plastics, to create increased accountability over their waste. The move can be seen as a reflection of the legislation passed by the European Union parliament earlier this year, and is indeed closely modelled on their research and implementation plans.
“Trudeau said the government will research the question of which items it should ban and follow the model chosen by the European Union, which voted in March to ban plastic items for which market alternatives exist - such as single-use plastic cutlery and plates - and items made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags,” according to CBC’s report.
We reported on the European Union’s radical move to ban an assortment of single-use plastics by 2021. Canada’s announcement mirrors the implementation time frame of the European Union.
Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Environment Minister added during Monday’s announcement that “we’ve all seen the disturbing images of fish, sea turtles, whales and other wildlife being injured or dying because of plastic garbage in our oceans. Canadians expect us to act,” she said.
As it stands, less than 10% of plastic produced and used in Canada is recycled, according to statistics from the BBC.
Environment and Climate Change Canada environmental group says that Canadians throw away 34-million plastic bags every day, more than likely entering landfill and oceans.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer criticised the plan for lacking any details about how it will impact Canada’s economy, adding that “in the dying days of this government - with a scandal plagued government, with a prime minister desperate to change the channel - we see another gesture without a plan without any kind of specifics about how this will be implemented or any kind of study on the impact on prices for consumers, on jobs, on how this would affect small businesses,” he said.
“This is clearly just a government clutching at straws,” he added.