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Canada to ban single-use plastics by 2021 and hold companies responsible for plastic waste

June, 10, 2019 - Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that the Government of Canada is taking steps to reduce Canada’s plastic waste, support innovation, and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives. Details of the plan have to be worked out. However, in a press release, Trudeau said that the Government of Canada will work with governments and businesses across Canada to:

  • 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.

The communiqué said that those measures will be grounded in scientific evidence and will align, where appropriate, with similar actions being taken in the European Union 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.

Trudeau said that by improving how Canada manages plastic waste and invests in innovative solutions, the country can reduce 1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution, generate billions of dollars in revenue, and create approximately 42,000 jobs.

"Canada has the longest coastline in the world and one-quarter of the world’s freshwater", stressed Trudeau. “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.”

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) also issued a statement today noting that they "fully endorse the objective of stopping waste, including plastic waste, from leaking into the environment". However, they warned against creating an impression that "safe, sanitary plastic materials are toxic through the CEPA. That will make it more difficult for Canada to achieve its zero waste objectives, the organizations said. The CPIA and CIAC also cautioned the government "not to pre-determine the outcome and consider impacts throughout the lifecycle of plastic products and their alternatives. Any rush to judgment could have serious implications on industry’s ability to create a circular economy for plastics that supports a national zero plastic waste strategy,".

Source: Canada government