Canada to ban plastic bags and other single-use products by end of 2021

Canadians throw away more than 3 million tonnes of plastic waste each year - only 9 per cent is recycled

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Canada is banning single-use plastic products - grocery bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, utensils and food containers - by the end of 2021.

The rollout was announced as part of Canada’s goal to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.

Minister for the environment, Jonathan Wilkinson, said during a Wednesday press conference: "Plastic pollution threatens our natural environment. It fills our rivers or lakes, and most particularly our oceans, choking the wildlife that live there. Canadians see the impact that pollution has from coast to coast to coast."

The plastics being targeted with the ban are "harmful in the environment… difficult or costly to recycle and there are readily available alternatives," he added.

Minister Wilkinson noted that the single-use plastic ban would not impact personal protective equipment (PPE) or “other plastics used in the medical environment” amid the ongoing public health concerns from the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, he did say that authorities were working on plans to make sure discarded PPE did not end up in nature and are exploring biodegradable options.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first announced the plastics ban last June. The Canadian government reports that citizens toss out more than 3 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. Only a fraction of that is recycled - 9 per cent - while the rest goes to landfills, waste-to-energy facilities or ends up in the environment. 

The government is soliciting public feedback on the plan until 9 December. 

The EU is also scheduled to introduce a single-use plastics ban next year however the decision-making processed has been slowed as officials try to decide what it should include, amid heavy lobbying from the plastics industry. 

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