How and why Canada is banning single-use plastics

Canada says the ban will eliminate more than a million tonnes of plastic waste and will help reduce the country’s planet-heating carbon emissions

Saphora Smith
Climate Correspondent
Thursday 23 June 2022 16:17
Comments
<p>Large bundles of plastic bags, cans and milk containers await processing at a recycling center in Canada. </p>

Large bundles of plastic bags, cans and milk containers await processing at a recycling center in Canada.

Canada is banning single-use plastics in a bid to keep them out of the environment.

The government there has announced it will stop the manufacture and import of the plastics, and will also eventually ban their export.

Canada says the ban will eliminate more than a million tonnes of plastic waste and will help reduce the country’s planet-heating carbon emissions.

Here’s what the country is doing:

What will the ban cover?

The types of single-use plastics in the ban include checkout bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, stirring sticks, ring carriers such as those placed around drinks cans and most straws.

Some single-use plastic flexible straws used for medical or accessibility reasons will be allowed, however.

When will the ban come into effect?

Canada is first banning the manufacture and import of single-use plastics, barring a few exceptions.

The government has said the ban will come into effect in December but to provide businesses enough time to transition, and to use up existing stocks, the sale of these items will be banned a year later, in December 2023.

The government will then go on to ban the export of those plastics by the end of 2025 to try to help tackle international plastic pollution.

What are single-use plastics and why would Canada want to ban them?

Single-use plastic is designed to be thrown away after one use.

One problem with these items is that they don’t biodegrade but break down into microplastics - small particles that then pollute the world’s oceans, the air we breathe and have even been found in our blood.

Even if a plastic item is marked as recyclable, if it’s designed to be thrown away it’s single-use as only 9 per cent of plastic waste ever gets recycled, with the rest either burned or dumped, according to Greenpeace.

Plastic pollution is now part of life on Earth. Pictures of sea creatures tangled up in plastic pollution is a defining image of our era and plastic can now even be found in the most remote parts of our planet, including on Mount Everest and inside the bodies of penguins.

What does Canada hope to achieve through the ban?

Every year Canadians throw away around 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9 per cent of which is recycled, with the vast majority ending up in landfill and around 29,000 tonnes making its way into the natural environment.

The government estimates its ban will eliminate over 1.3 million tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic waste and the equivalent of more than a million bin bags full of plastic pollution over the next decade.

It also believes moving toward a more circular economy for plastics could reduce carbon emissions by 1.8 megatonnes annually and create tens of thousands of jobs by 2030. In 2020, Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 672 megatonnes of carbon equivalent.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in