The Trudeau government is planning to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021, as part of a wider plastic pollution strategy set to be released today in coordinated announcements by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, CBC revealed in an exclusive report late Sunday afternoon.
The breaking news comes at a time when fossil companies are fretting about a mounting global backlash against plastic pollution, as public opinion coalesces into a threat to a business they’ve been counting on as a reliable source of demand for their own raw product (see accompanying story).
“Plastic straws, cotton swabs, drink stirrers, plates, cutlery, and balloon sticks are just some of the single-use plastics that will be banned in Canada,” CBC reports, citing a government source. “The full list of plastics to be banned by the federal government will follow the model chosen by the European Union, which voted in March to also ban products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags. Oxo-degradable plastics include additives that don’t completely biodegrade but fragment into small pieces and remain in the environment.”
CBC adds that “fast food containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene, which is similar to white styrofoam, will also be banned.”
The initiative follows discussions at the June, 2018 G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led the call for an Ocean Plastics Charter. France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and EU joined Canada in signing on to the charter immediately, and CBC says they’re all now moving to curb plastic pollution.
Environment and Climate Change Canada estimates Canadians now throw away 34 million plastic bags per day, sending them to landfills where they’ll take up to 1,000 years to decay. “Many also end up in the oceans harming marine ecosystems and wildlife,” CBC notes. “Recently whales have been found dead, washed ashore with pounds of plastic in their stomachs.”
A report earlier this year by consultants from Deloitte and ChemInfo Services found that Canada only recycles 9% of its plastic waste, while sending 87% to landfills. It also concluded that plastics manufacturing was one of the country’s fastest-growing sectors between 2012 and 2017, accounting for C$35 billion in annual sales and employing 93,000 people, mostly in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. The recycling industry, by contrast, generates about $350 million and employs about 500.Later today, the federal department is expected to explain how the new plastics strategy will create jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Last month, a blockbuster report by the U.S. Center for International Environmental Law and five other organizations placed the global plastic industry’s life cycle greenhouse gas emissions at 850 million tonnes this year—with potential to hit 1.34 gigatonnes per year by 2030, the equivalent of 295 500-megawatt coal plants.