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No one likes seeing plastic litter on their hiking trails or local parks. That’s why, on Monday, 20th June 2022, the Canadian government announced that it would be banning the import and manufacture of single-use plastics by the end of 2022. Canada is banning single-use plastics to combat pollution of plastic waste and address climate change.
Items like carry-bags and checkout bags at malls, straws, food service products like containers, and cutlery will come under the ban. The ban will only exclude plastic items used for medical purposes. The government said that the ban would be effective in December 2022. In December 2023, the government will prohibit the sale of all these items. The government is providing this time gap to ease the transition for businesses and permit them to use up their current plastic stocks. The banned plastic items include:
1. Checkout bags
3. Hard to recycle plastics from food service ware
4. Stirring sticks
6. Ring carriers
In 2019, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, vowed to phase out plastics from the country. He said the newly announced ban would eliminate 1.3 million tons of plastic waste over the coming decade. By 2025, the government will also ban the export of these plastic items in an attempt to combat plastic pollution. The ban on plastic export would make Canada the first country to completely ban the import, export, and manufacture of plastics.
The country has announced that it is wholly committed to reducing plastic pollution, protecting biodiversity, and promoting a healthy environment in the country and around the world.
By the end of 2022, no one will be able to import or manufacture harmful plastics in the country. After this year, Canadian businesses will begin offering consumers sustainable solutions like reusable bags and paper straws. The country’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change said that Canada banning single-use plastics is a historic step forward toward reducing plastic pollution. The ban will help keep communities and places in the country clean.
Canada’s ban announcement comes alongside other countries’ declarations on combating the plastic waste problem. Plastic is made from petroleum and takes hundreds of years to decompose. The ban puts Canada in the list of world leaders in fighting the global plastic waste and pollution problem. It will also help the country meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
According to a 2021 report, the United States is the world’s largest contributor to plastic waste. The country’s Interior Department said it would eliminate the use of single-use plastics in public lands and national parks by 2032.
Canada’s environmental groups have lauded the government’s efforts to combat plastic pollution. But, they have also raised concerns that the ban is not enough. They said that the government needs to expand the list of banned plastic items and cut overall plastic pollution. They noted that relying on recycling plastics is not a viable solution to the waste problem.
As of December 2023, the government will restrict the sale of single-use flexible plastic straws. However, the government will permit people who need it to use it for medical or accessibility reasons at home or in social and healthcare settings such as long-term care facilities and hospitals.
By June 2023, the country will prohibit the manufacture of flexible plastic straws packaged along with beverage containers like juice boxes. The government will ban the sale of these items by June 2024. Again, the time gap is for businesses and supply chains to transition to replacing plastic in manufacturing lines easily.
The Canadian government has also published two documents to guide businesses. One document will help enterprises to get familiar with and adjust to the new regulations. The other document guides businesses and Canadian citizens in choosing sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic.
Eliminating plastics and moving towards a circular economy will create around 42,000 jobs in the country by 2030. The ban will also reduce 1.8 megatons of carbon emissions every year and generate billions of dollars in revenue.
Last year, the federal government listed plastics as toxic items under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. This allowed the establishment of regulations to ban some items.
However, some plastic manufacturing groups in Canada have opposed the proposed regulations governing plastic use. They’ve opposed the new rules even as the government assured them that it would give businesses the necessary time to transition. Many groups have expressed concerns that the ban will hamper further innovations in the plastic industry. They also said that the ban could hurt the country’s economy without guaranteeing environmental protection.
The government of Canada has assured businesses and manufacturing and production groups that it has consulted a variety of professions for input to establish the new regulations. It also admits that companies need guidance on replacing plastic with alternative products and is ready to help them.
By 2015, global plastic production had reached 7.8 billion tons. This was more than one ton of plastic for every person alive today. Since 1950, when the world first produced plastic, we have recycled only 9% of plastic items.
In its recent report, the UN indicated that global plastic use will triple by 2060. By that same year, the production of plastic from fossil fuels will reach 1.2 billion tons. These production levels will generate waste amounting to 1 billion tons every year.
Reports like the UN’s have resulted in a growing sense of global concern surrounding the dominance of plastic items in lives today. We need to realize the problems plastic causes for pollution and the environment. The world has produced around 8.3 billion tons of plastic over the last 70 years. We have dumped 60% of this plastic in landfills, rivers, oceans, or incinerated.