On October 7, 2020, the Canadian government announced that they are banning certain single-use plastics by the end of 2021. This announcement follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to reduce plastic waste, as well as Canada’s commitment to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. 

What plastic products is Canada banning?
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Straws 
  • Cutlery
  • Stirring sticks
  • Six-pack rings
  • Takeout containers
Why is Canada targeting single-use plastics?

Well, they all share some key characteristics.

The first is that they are harmful to the environment. Single-use plastics are impacting our health, wildlife, and oceans. They end up in our landfills, waterways, and streets. Plastics are not biodegradable, as a result, they break down into harmful microplastics. Also, single use plastics are made using fossil fuels, increasing overall pollution.

The second being that many single-use plastics have readily available alternatives. There are great options such as reusable grocery bags and metal straws that can be used over and over again. Starting with items that have easy alternatives will help Canada’s transition away from single-use plastics.

The third and final characteristic is that single-use plastics are difficult and expensive to recycle. Many of these items are not able to be recycled at all. For instance, plastic bags are hard to sort, and can jam recycling machines. Additionally, straws are too small and light to recycle.

How does banning plastic help?
short-fur white cat

This change will protect Canadian wildlife and oceans, as well as reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s government is planning on establishing requirements for products to contain a certain amount of recycled material. As a result, this will lead to investment in the recycling industry. It will drive innovation from manufacturers to focus on creating products with longer life spans. Not only from companies in Canada, but those importing as well.

This ban not only helps Canada, but will set a great example for other countries to address this issue. It will act as inspiration to governments, businesses, and people across the globe. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stressed that plastic pollution is a “global challenge.” Those looking into making macro-level change regarding plastic waste can look to Canada as a guide.

How can you reduce plastic in your life?

Your country may not have the same upcoming single-use plastic policies if you aren’t in Canada, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help out. The choices you make as an individual can quickly add up. A reusable water bottle can save hundreds of plastic bottles from entering the environment per year.

green Hydro Flask tumbler on wood slab

Here are five great tips to reduce single-use plastics in your life and your community.

  1. Pack reusable bags when grocery shopping.
  2. Avoid individually packaged products. Buy in bulk whenever possible.
  3. Invest in metal straws, cutlery, chopsticks, etc.
  4. Give up the bottled water. Buy a reusable bottle! A thermos is great if you love coffee.
  5. Shop at your local farmers market. (Less plastic than grocery stores)

Additionally, check out this article by Caitlin Fields for more awesome tips!