Canada is Saying Goodbye to Single-Use Plastics

Plastic supermarket bags, straws, cutlery, take-out food containers, and more will be off of store shelves in 2021.

(photka /

Canada is joining a growing number of countries, states, and cities that are banning single-use plastics. All plastic supermarket bags, straws, cutlery, take-out food containers, and beverage six-pack rings will be off of store shelves nationwide by the end of 2021 according to CTV News.

The need for the ban is very clear. “Plastic pollution threatens our natural environment. It fills our rivers or lakes, and most particularly our oceans, choking the wildlife that live there,” Canada’s Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said a press conference on October 7, 2020. Canadians see the impact that pollution has from coast to coast to coast.”

This is the first phase of the government’s plan, announced in 2019, to be zero plastic waste by 2030, according to CTV. When the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns began, the government signaled that this might delay the implementation of the ban but public support put it back on track. The ban will not include personal protective equipment like masks and face shields and will also not impact plastics used in medical facilities.

Without the ban, the government estimated that Canadians will throw away $11 billion worth of plastics by 2030. That’s because less than 10 percent of plastic used is being recycled. Reducing plastic waste will also reduce 1.8 million British tonnes of carbon in the air.

Now, the Canadian government is educating people on how this will impact them. The items that were chosen for the first phase were those that had replacements readily available, affordable, and recyclable, Wilkinson said in the press conference. “When a ban comes into effect, your local stores will be providing you with alternatives to these plastic products.”

He also said that he knew it will be hard for some people to go to grocery stores and not find products they are used to buying but that these changes were necessary.

“At the end of the day, Canadians expect us as governments to take action on an issue that they know is an important one… and to be honest with you, Canadians are far ahead of their governments on the plastic issue [and] they've been demanding this kind of action for a long time,” Wilkinson said.  

Canada’s ban is similar to the European Union’s 2018 ruling that will also go into effect in 2021. The legislation bans plastic cutlery, plates, straws, cotton buds, drink stirrers, and balloon sticks, which make up 70 percent of ocean litter. It also calls for provisions to reduce plastic items that do not currently have replacements and to recycle 90 percent of plastic bottles by 2025.

This is a major step in the right direction but much more is needed to clean up the world’s oceans, remove plastics from landfills, and reduce greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Hopefully, Canada will be a shining example for other countries to follow.

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