Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is taking a stand against plastic pollution. On Monday, June 10, Trudeau announced that the Canadian government will be making a serious effort to reduce plastic waste in Canada — namely, by creating a plan to ban single-use plastics. That said, Canadians likely have some time before the country is completely free of unnecessary disposable plastics.
According to a press release on the prime minister's official website, Trudeau declared that the government will take steps "to reduce Canada’s plastic waste, support innovation, and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives." The government has a goal to "ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 ... where supported by scientific evidence and warranted, and take other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging."
So even though many headlines this week claimed that Canada is banning single-use plastics in 2021, a more accurate statement is that the earliest that the country will ban "harmful" single-use plastics is 2021— but the ban could actually come much later than that.
To achieve a ban, the Canadian government will work with provinces and territories all over the country to develop guidelines that will force companies to take responsibility for the single-use plastic they produce or use as packaging, in hopes that this will incentivize the companies to find alternatives to plastic. As the prime minister's website explains, the government will set these guidelines based off of scientific evidence as well as measures that have been put into place in other countries to limit plastic.
“Canadians know first-hand the impacts of plastic pollution, and are tired of seeing their beaches, parks, streets, and shorelines littered with plastic waste," Trudeau said in a statement. "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.”
In Canada, more than 3 million tons of plastic are thrown away annually, adding up to $8 billion being spent on plastic that's just put in the trash every year, according to the press release on the prime minister's website. So not only is excessive single-use plastic obviously harmful to the environment, but it's also costing Canadians money.
Additionally, the new plan is part of Canada's Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste, created by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). The CCME explains on its website that the strategy is an action plan to "keep all plastics in the economy and out of the environment."
Even though Canada still has a long way to go when it comes to banning single-use plastic, it's a significant step that so many government leaders — namely the prime minister — are finally getting serious about reducing plastic pollution. Hopefully the ban on disposable plastics will come sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, click here, here, here, and here for tips on reducing your personal plastic waste.