Canada laid out its final regulations on Monday spelling out how it intends to apply a ban on plastic bags, straws, takeout containers and other single-use plastics.
“Only 8% of the plastic we throw away gets recycled,” said federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos in French, adding that 43,000 tons of single-use plastics a year find their way into the environment, most notably in waterways.
Duclos was joined by the environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, on a beach in Quebec City to announce the final regulatory text, which includes banning single-use plastic bags, cutlery, straws, stir sticks, carrier rings, and takeout containers.
The ban on manufacture and import of those six types of items will begin in December 2022, and the ban on sale a year later. By the end of 2025, Canada will also ban export, making it “the first among peer jurisdictions to do so internationally,” according to a government news release.
“The Canadian population was very clear with us,” he said of the prevalence of plastic in soil, air, drinking water and food. “They’re tired of seeing plastic trash in parks, streets [and other locations].”
The regulations have a few notable exceptions. Retailers will be allowed to sell single-use plastic flexible straws if it is packaged alongside a beverage container, and as long as the packaging was done off-premises.
They’ll also be permitted to sell packages of 20 or more single-use straws, as long as they’re kept out of customer view.
Also absent from the new regulations are bans on plastic packaging for consumer goods – the leading source of plastic waste worldwide, though Canada has promised to ensure all plastic packaging contains at least 50% recycled content by 2030.
In 2018, Canada led the creation of the international Ocean Plastics Charter, which has since been signed by 28 countries including France, Germany and Costa Rica. The pledge includes steps to reduce plastics usage, and to work with industry to increase rates of plastics recycling.