Baljot Rai ’24
Plastic pollution is one of the largest issues facing society today. The economy, the environment, and the way we live our lives are being irreparably changed. Canadian beaches, parks, and shorelines that we cherish are defiled by billions of micro-plastics. While all of us can play a small part toward keeping our oceans and land cleaner, strategies implemented by the government have a far greater impact. On December 21, 2021, the Canadian government released its long-awaited plan to ban single-use plastics in Canada.
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, stated that “We are taking action to get plastic pollution out of Canada’s communities and our waterways. The proposed Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations are a big step forward in our goal to reduce plastic pollution and move to a circular economy for plastics. Smart, clear, and collaborative regulations will help drive innovation across the country as reusable and easier-to-recycle items take their place in our economy.”
The single-use plastics ban is a mere part of a comprehensive plan to address plastic pollution in the country. By 2030, Canada aims to have zero plastic waste. In 2016 alone, 29,000 tonnes of plastic entered the environment as pollution.
Any single-use plastics that are present as pollution in our environment and have readily available alternatives will be banned across the nation by the end of this year. Based on these criteria, plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics will soon become a thing of the past. The sale, manufacturing, and importation of these items will cease nationwide by the end of 2022. These regulations are estimated to prevent more than 23,000 tonnes of plastic pollution from entering the environment over a ten-year period. This is the equivalent of one million garbage bags of litter!
Many retailers have already stopped the use of plastic bags and are now using other alter-natives such as paper bags or re-usable bags. Paper straws and biodegradable cutlery will soon become the norm in our society.
This is the first major part of the Canadian government’s Zero Plastic Waste plan and is expected to be followed by further action. An eco-friendlier future is indeed in store for Canada, and any action in this direction is an essential component of achieving this goal.
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