Photo: Paul Chiasson, Canadian Press

The government of Canada announced this week that it will ban many single-use plastic items by 2021 and also plans to make companies that manufacture or sell plastic products take responsibility for recycling their plastic waste.  According to CBC News, the government is likely to follow the European Union, which voted last March to ban plastic items for which market alternatives exist — such as single-use plastic cutlery and plates — and items made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags.

Why This Matters:  The U.S. is increasingly falling behind the rest of the western developed countries when it comes to banning single-use plastics and recycling the rest.  The push began at the G7 summit last June when Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., and the European Union agreed to find ways to deal with marine plastics litter.  These nations are stepping up and making decisions to live up to that pledge, while the U.S, is missing in action.  Meanwhile, our plastic waste continues to pile up in landfills and in poorer areas of the U.S.  Canada is smart to force producers to either replace the plastic products or they must be responsible for their full life-cycle costs, including recycling.  Canada is also trying to improve its image after recent international headlines concerning dozens of containers of rotting garbage and contaminated recyclables sat festering in the Philippines.

Conservative Leader in Canada Is Critical.  Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the plan lacks any details about how it would affect the economy and said that the Trudeau government was just a government “in its dying days” that is just “clutching at straws.”

What’s Going to Be Banned?  That remains unclear but it seems that they are considering everything from cotton swabs, to drink stirrers, plates and balloon sticks, and fast-food containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene, which is similar to white Styrofoam.

Almost None of this Waste is Recycled Now.  According to CBC News, a report done earlier this year that was commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada found that in 2016, only 9% of plastic waste was recycled in Canada and 87% ended up in landfills.

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