Today, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson announced the next steps in the Government of Canada’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. The plan will protect wildlife and waters, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and create jobs.

“Canadians see the effects of plastic pollution in their communities and waterways and they expect the Government to take action,” said Wilkinson. “Our Government is introducing a comprehensive plan to get to zero plastic waste. Our plan embraces the transition towards a circular economy, recycled-content standards and targets for recycling rates. We also intend to ban plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and hard-to-recycle take out containers.”

According to Wilkinson, these items are harmful to the environment and their value is lost from the economy when they are tossed in the trash. This proposed ban is expected to help drive innovation across the country as new and easier to recycle items take their place in the economy.

Every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9 per cent of which is recycled. The vast majority of plastics end up in landfills and about 29,000 tonnes finds its way into the natural environment.

A key part of the plan is a ban on harmful single-use plastic items where there is evidence that they are found in the environment, are often not recycled, and have readily available alternatives.

Based on those criteria, the six items the government proposes to ban are:

  • plastic checkout bags
  • stir sticks
  • 6-pack rings
  • cutlery
  • straws
  • food service ware made from problematic plastics

The list of items was published today in the discussion paper “Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution.” This plan also proposes improvements to recover and recycle plastic, and to establish recycled content requirements in products and packaging. This will drive investment in recycling infrastructure and spur innovation in technology and product design to extend the life of plastic materials.

The Government of Canada is collaborating with provinces and territories through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Together, all federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste that lays out a vision for a circular economy for plastics, as well as a two-phase action plan that is being jointly implemented.

The federal government also wants to hear from Canadians and stakeholders on this approach to protect the environment from plastic pollution and reduce waste through a more circular economy.

Regulations will be finalized by the end of 2021.

Parties wishing to comment on any aspect of this paper, including the categorization of single-use plastics and proposed management approaches, are invited to provide written comments to the Director of the Plastics and Marine Litter Division of ECCC by December 9, 2020 at ec.plastiques-plastics.ec@canada.ca.

Minister Wilkinson also took the opportunity to announce a more than $2 million investment through the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative for 14 new Canadian-led plastic reduction initiatives. These projects are led by communities, organizations, and institutions, and will promote the development of new and innovative solutions to prevent, capture and remove plastic pollution from the environment.

For further information on these projects, click here:

Projects funded by the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative

Featured image: Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson announced the next steps in the Government of Canada’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. 

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