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Canada: no more single-use plastics

Less than 10% of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. That’s why the country’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will ban single-use plastic products by 2021.

Every year, Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste. This represents up to C$ 8 billion per year in lost value and wastes valuable resources and energy. The newly announced plastics ban applies to single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks.

Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year in Canada, while close to 57 million straws are used daily.

‘A defining moment’

‘Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated C$ 11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030,’ according to Trudeau. He says today is a ‘defining moment’, urging that pollution caused by plastic waste is ‘a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore’.

Besides phasing out single-use plastics, the Government of Canada is taking several steps to further reduce plastic waste. This includes supporting innovation as well as promoting the use of affordable and safe alternatives. To achieve this goal, governments and businesses across Canada will work have to work closely together.

According to Trudeau, the government will 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 based on scientific evidence and will align, where appropriate, with similar actions being taken in nations around the world.

The longest coastline

Improved plastic waste management and investments in innovative solutions are thought to reduce 1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution while generating billions of dollars in revenue, and creating 42 000 jobs.

Canada has the longest coastline in the world and is home to one-quarter of the world’s freshwater, Trudeau points out. ‘Canadians know first-hand the impacts of plastic pollution, and are tired of seeing their beaches, parks, streets, and shorelines littered with plastic waste,’ he comments.

The prime minister cites the fact that around 650 000 tonnes of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear enters Canada’s oceans annually. The material can stay intact for up to 600 years. Trudeau exclaims: ‘We have a responsibility to work with our partners to reduce plastic pollution, protect the environment, and create jobs and grow our economy.’

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