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Plastic Waste
Photograph: Volodymyr Hryshchenko / Unsplash

Canada is banning a lot of single-use plastics by the end of 2021

The Canadian government announced it would ban many single-use plastic products by 2021—that's a big boost to Montreal's own zero-waste goal for 2030.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki

Last week on October 7th, the Canadian government announced that it would be banning single-use plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics across the country by the end of 2021—something that will be a boon to Montreal's own announced plans to go zero-waste by 2030.

In the Canadian government's announcement, it detailed that every year "Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9% of which is recycled, meaning the vast majority of plastics end up in landfills and about 29,000 tonnes finds its way into our natural environment." Single-use plastics make up the majority of plastic litter that is found in freshwater environments in Canada, and as many as 15 billion plastic bags are used every year, with 57 million straws used daily.

The new ban would place Canada among over 35 countries around the world taking action to ban certain single-use plastics. 

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has said that once the ban comes into effect, local stores will be shouldered with providing alternative to those plastic products. These plans have been ongoing since its original announcement in June of 2019, but have been delayed by the pandemic, the Minister said.

The federal government has a target of at least 50% recycled content in plastic products by 2030, requiring a minimum percentage of recycled content; rules for measuring and evaluating the amount of recycled content; and
guidelines and related tools to help companies meet their requirements.

Here in Montreal, the city has tabled a proposed "social contract" with residents and businesses to make the metropolitan area zero waste by 2030, a plan that would require individuals to reduce their waste by roughly 10kg a year by no longer buying disposable goods.

Beyond the individual level, the plan also proposes to ban single-use plastic use with businesses by replacing them with compostable or reusable containers; stop the use of plastic water bottles at in municipal buildings and at public events held by the city; gradually ban grocery stores, schools and hospitals from throwing out organic waste; and to demand more accountability in the cost of recycling and modify budgets accordingly.

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