Under the newly-unveiled list of single-use plastics being banned in Canada, plastic grocery bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and food containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics will be out of use nationwide by the end of 2021.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced the federal government’s next steps towards its plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.
“When a ban comes into effect, your local stores will be providing you with alternatives to these plastic products,” Wilkinson said, adding that he knows it’s hard to come back from a trip to the grocery store without single-use plastic products, especially food packaging, but that “has to change.”
As first pledged last year, and re-committed in the Liberal’s September throne speech, the government is moving ahead with banning certain “harmful” single-use plastics that are consistently found in the environment and for which there are readily available alternatives, while finding ways to make sure more plastic is recycled.
Citing the need to consult, the government will be soliciting feedback on a “discussion paper” until Dec. 9. The finalized new regulations wouldn’t come into effect until the end of 2021.
In the spring, Wilkinson signalled that the ban on single-use plastics may be delayed because of the pandemic. By the summer, a Canadian report found that public support for a crackdown on certain products was dwindling as the majority of those surveyed said they liked the health and safety protections associated with disposable plastics over reusable alternatives.
Recognizing the ongoing need for single-use plastic personal protective equipment items like face shields, the federal government says the ban will not impact access to PPE, or other plastics used in medical facilities.
However, the government has been discussing the pollution impacts of the increased use of many disposable products during the pandemic and says it’s working with the provinces and territories on plans to properly dispose as much of it as possible.
“We're also investigating solutions to recycle PPE where it is safe to do so, and options to make some of the PPE biodegradable,” Wilkinson said.