Canada is taking steps to ban a range of everyday plastics as part of a sweeping strategy to push provinces and manufacturers to overhaul recycling and waste-reduction efforts.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government on Monday will lay out plans to regulate plastic waste as part of a national blueprint to reduce the amount of hard-to-recycle consumer packaging that has swamped city waste programs and is polluting Canada’s rivers and lakes.
A federal official to whom The Globe and Mail granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly said Ottawa will begin a scientific evaluation to designate plastic waste as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), the first step to imposing bans on disposable single-use items and introducing national recycling standards and targets.
The approach is a response to increasing anxiety about plastic pollution and is also an acknowledgment that household recycling has not kept pace with the rapid spread of cheap consumer packaging discarded after a single use: Only 9 per cent of plastics are recycled in Canada.
The official stressed that Ottawa must conduct its own scientific analysis before determining specific items to ban, but said the intent is to align with new European Union regulations, which take effect in 2021. The ban in Canada could encompass items such as plastic straws, coffee cups and stir sticks.
The EU moved in March to ban 10 single-use items, including plastic cutlery, plates and Styrofoam food and drink containers. Lawmakers also voted to compel tobacco companies to pay for public collection of cigarette butts, a major source of plastic litter.
The federal government on Monday will also reiterate a commitment to work with provinces to implement policies to hold businesses that produce or sell plastic products