Canada announced Monday it will ban the production and import of “harmful single-use plastics” starting in December in an effort to curb plastic waste and pollution.
The new guidance bans plastic checkout bags, cutlery, food containers, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws, with few exceptions.
Canada also will ban the sale of single-use plastics, but not until December 2023 to give businesses time to adjust. Canadians will also be barred from exporting those items by the end of 2025.
“We promised Canadians we would deliver a ban on single-use plastics,” Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said. “By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics. After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags.”
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the new regulations “will improve health outcomes for all Canadians.”
“These new regulations mark a turning point for Canada. We are taking strong action to protect the environment, creating cleaner and healthier communities across the country,” Duclos added.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the new regulations, noting the ban’s effect on reducing waste.
“Over the next 10 years, this ban will result in the estimated elimination of over 1.3 million tonnes of plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.
The Canadian government said the country uses 15 billion plastic checkout bags every year, and nearly 16 million straws daily.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Interior Department announced it would phase out single-use plastics on public lands by 2032. This will “protect our natural environment and the communities around them,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
The Global Outlook Plastics report, published in February by the Organization for Cooperation and Development, a group of developed countries, said bans and taxes on single-use plastics in over 120 countries are falling short of reducing overall pollution.
“Reducing pollution from plastics will require action, and international co-operation, to reduce plastic production, including through innovation, better product design and developing environmentally friendly alternatives, as well as efforts to improve waste management and increase recycling,” the report states.
The report also said while the use of plastic fell 2.2% during the height of the pandemic, it rebounded when economic activity resumed in 2021. At the same time, the group noted, littering increased, in part from food takeout containers and masks.
Only 9% of plastic waste was recycled worldwide in 2019, according to the Organization for Cooperation and Development. The U.S. was worse than the world’s average, recycling only 4% of plastic waste that year.