Ban on harmful single-use plastics starts to take effect

The federal government’s promise to prohibit the import and manufacture of harmful single-use plastics like checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware made from plastics that are hard to recycle, stir sticks and most straws is now in effect.

The prohibition on the sale of those items, meanwhile, will come into force in December 2023. Single-use plastic flexible straws are still available for people who need them for medical or accessibility reasons.

“As climate change continues to pose a serious threat to our health, limiting plastic pollution is crucial not only for our environment, but for our overall well-being,” says federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos. “With this ban, we are expected to avoid 1.3 million tonnes of plastic waste over the next 10 years across Canada, leading to less pollution and healthier communities.”

The ban on the manufacture and import of ring carriers will come into effect in June 2023. The six categories of single-use plastic items covered by the ban were selected because they’re commonly found in the environment, are harmful to wildlife and their habitat, are difficult to recycle and have readily available alternatives.

“The convenience of single-use plastics comes at a devastating cost to our oceans,” says Anthony Merante, a plastics campaigner with Oceana Canada. The independent charity is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. “Plastic products like six-pack ring carriers and shopping bags are consistently found in the stomachs of whales and around the necks of seabirds. Once in the ocean, plastic can persist for hundreds of years. This ban is the first step toward stopping the problem at its source.”

Additional initiatives are in the works. The federal government says it’s working with provinces, territories and industry to set a collection target of 90 per cent for recycling plastic beverage bottles. It’s also developing regulations to require that certain plastic packaging contain at least 50 per cent recycled content and to establish clear rules for labelling recyclable and compostable plastics.

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