Canada sets dates to ban some disposable plastics

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QUEBEC CITY – The Canadian government has banned companies from importing or producing styrofoam plastic bags and containers until the end of this year, selling them until the end of next year and exporting them until the end of 2025.

Canada had previously announced a ban, but environmentalists were concerned about the delays and that Canada’s original plan was to ban the items at home but continue to send them abroad. Environment Minister Stephen Gilbo announced the dates on Monday.

In addition to bags and boxes for the home, the ban will affect plastic straws, bags, cutlery, chopsticks and six-pack rings that hold boxes and bottles.

The federal government listed plastics as toxic under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act last year, paving the way for regulations to ban some. However, a consortium of plastics manufacturers is suing the government over the toxic label in a case expected to be heard later this year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised for the first time in June 2019 that his government would phase out the production and use of recyclable plastic products, as it has zero plastic waste by the end of the decade.

He initially said the ban would happen in 2021, but the scientific assessment of plastics needed to trigger the ban was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plastic waste is a growing problem worldwide, with around 10% or less of most plastics produced estimated to be recycled.

A research study published by Environment and Climate Change Canada in 2019 found that 3.3 million tonnes of plastic were dumped, almost half of which was plastic packaging. Less than a tenth of this is recycled. Most of the plastic ends up in landfills, where it will take hundreds of years to decompose.

Approximately 29,000 tonnes end up as plastic pollution, pollution of parks, forests, waterways and the coastline with cigarette butts, food packaging and disposable coffee cups.

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