Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says six single-use plastic items that aren’t easily recycled and already have more environmentally-friendly alternatives will be the first to go under Canada’s new restrictions on plastics. That means it’s the end of the road for plastic straws, stir sticks, carry-out bags, cutlery, Styrofoam dishes and takeout containers and six-pack rings for cans and bottles. The proposed ban still has to go through the government’s regulatory process but Wilkinson said the goal is to have it in place by the end of 2021.
He also said a ban is just one part of a zero-plastic waste strategy that includes making plastics that aren’t being banned easier to recycle by standardizing their production, and creating a market for recycled plastic by requiring most plastic packaging to include recycled material. A discussion paper released today suggests that at least half the content of some plastic items should be recycled material by 2030, the same year more than half of all plastic packaging needs to be reused or recycled.
Canadians throw away more than three million tonnes of plastic every year, and less than one-tenth of it is recycled. Even when we think it’s being recycled because we put it into the blue bin on the curb, there are so few options for recycling here or abroad that much of that is still eventually trucked to a garbage dump. “I know it is presently hard to come back from the grocery store without a single-use plastic item, particularly around packaging on food,” Wilkinson said. “You use it, you throw it in the recycling bin and more often than not it ends up in a landfill. This has to change.”