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Canada plans to ban harmful single-use plastics and hold companies responsible for plastic waste

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the Government of Canada is taking additional steps to reduce Canada’s plastic waste, support innovation, and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives. This includes a possible ban on "harmful" single-use plastics as early as 2021 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces his government's intention to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021 during a news conference in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., Monday, June 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces his government’s intention to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021 during a news conference in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec held on Monday, June 10, 2019 (photo courtesy THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson).

Plastic pollution is a global challenge that requires immediate action. With the longest coastline in the world and one-quarter of the world’s freshwater, Canada has a unique responsibility – and opportunity – to lead in reducing plastic pollution.

From launching the Ocean Plastics Charter at the 2018 G7 Summit to investing in new Canadian technologies that turn plastic waste into valuable resources. However, less than 10 percent of the plastic used in Canada gets recycled. Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated CA$11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.

Speaking at Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec on June 10, 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada is taking additional steps to reduce Canada’s plastic waste, support innovation, and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives.

Canadians know first-hand the impacts of plastic pollution and are tired of seeing their beaches, parks, streets, and shorelines littered with plastic waste. We have a responsibility to work with our partners to reduce plastic pollution, protect the environment, and create jobs and grow our economy. We owe it to our kids to keep the environment clean and safe for generations to come said Prime Minister Trudeau.

Working with governments and businesses across Canada, the Government of Canada will:

  • ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks) where “supported by scientific evidence and warranted”, and take other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging
  • work with provinces and territories to introduce standards and targets for companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging so they become responsible for their plastic waste.

These measures will be grounded in scientific evidence and will align, where appropriate, with similar actions being taken in the European Union (EU) and other countries. They will also support the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s development of an action plan to implement the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.

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. That’s why our government intends to ban harmful single-use plastic products where science warrants it, and why we’re working with partners across Canada and around the world to reduce plastic pollution. Taking these steps will help create tens of thousands of middle-class jobs and make our economy even stronger—while protecting fish, whales, and other wildlife, and preserving the places we love, said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

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