The federal government is making good on a 2019 campaign promise to ban single use plastics with the announcement that plastics which are difficult to recycle will be the first to be scraped starting next year.
What’s Banned: Plastic straws, grocery bags, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.
The government also plans to implement recycled-content requirements in products and packaging.
Why Ban Plastics?
Plastics can be really bad for the environment. The items being banned are often found washed up on shorelines and in water systems around the world. Canada hopes the reduction of plastic use will eliminate 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions per year.
The ban is implemented by listing plastics as ‘toxic’ under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). This is controversial for two reasons:
- It allows the Liberals to circumvent parliament to bring in the ban.
- Defining plastics as a toxic material could have implications for the interprovincial and international trade of plastics. A spokesperson for the Minister of the Environment says this change won’t affect trade, explaining labelling plastics as toxic “does not necessarily mean they are ‘toxic’ in the way the word is commonly used.”
Alberta is upset that the ban will hurt their oil industry and the province's plans to become a recycling hub. Industry groups are voicing concerns about the ‘toxic’ label, and the necessity of single use plastics in PPE.