Trudeau Announces Plan to Ban Single-Use Plastics as Early as 2021

June 10, 2019 Updated: June 10, 2019

MONT-SAINT-HILAIRE, QB.—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday the federal government’s intention to ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021.

Speaking at a nature reserve in Mont St-Hilaire, south of Montreal, Trudeau said the specifics of the ban still need to be worked out. He said Ottawa will conduct research to determine a course of action grounded in science.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a Liberal Party caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 2, 2019. (Reuters/Chris Wattie)
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a Liberal Party caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 2, 2019. (Reuters/Chris Wattie)

“A real solution needs to be nationwide—we need to cover all of Canada with this decision—and that’s why the federal government is moving forward on a science-based approach to establishing which harmful single-use plastics we will be eliminating as of 2021,” he said.

He said companies that produce plastics or use them in packaging will be responsible for the collection and recycling of the waste.

“Whether we’re talking about plastic bottles or cell phones, it will be up to businesses to take responsibility for the plastics they’re manufacturing and putting out into the world,” Trudeau said.

A Malaysian official inspects a container filled with plastic waste shipment prior to sending it to the Westport in Port Klang, Malaysia on May 28, 2019. (Vincent Thian/The Canadian Press/AP)
A Malaysian official inspects a container filled with plastic waste shipment prior to sending it to the Westport in Port Klang, Malaysia on May 28, 2019. (Vincent Thian/The Canadian Press/AP)

He said the situation of plastic overflowing in landfills and polluting oceans and waterways has reached a breaking point, and action is needed.

“As parents, we’re at a point where we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam, or bottles,” he said. “That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.”

Less than 10 percent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled, and without any change in habits, Canadians will be throwing out $11 billion worth of plastic products by 2030.

Plastic straws and single-use containers
Hobart has become the first capital city in the nation to ban single-use plastics, including takeaway food containers and straws. (Sagar Chaudhray/Unsplash)
A stock photo of water bottles (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A woman leaves a grocery store on May 15, 2015 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
A woman leaves a grocery store on May 15, 2015 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The products targeted could include such single-use items as drinking straws, water bottles, plastic bags, cutlery, stir sticks, and fast food containers.

At the last G7 summit, Canada and four other leading economies signed a charter pledging that by 2040 all plastic produced in their countries would be reused, recycled, or burned to produce energy. (The United States and Japan stayed out.)

The federal government intends to work with provinces, territories, and municipalities to set standards for companies that sell such products.

Similar announcements are being made today by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in Toronto and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in British Columbia.

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