Canada bans single-use plastic bags

Jun 11, 2019

Add Canada to the list of places planning to ban plastic bags. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will ban so-called single-use plastics, which could include shopping bags, drinking straws and eating utensils, by 2021.

According to the CBC, the list of items to be banned is not yet official, but a government source said it will include coffee stir sticks, plates, balloon sticks, and polystyrene cups.

Plastic waste has been getting increased attention in recent years due to the amount of litter it causes and the fact much of it is in oceans and other ecologically sensitive places. There are also significant health concerns over chemicals in plastics being ingested by humans and wildlife.

A plastic bag ban in New York State is set to take effect in March 2020.

The Canadian government is also part of an international effort to find ways to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in oceans. It signed the Ocean Plastics Charter at the G7 Summit held in Charlevoix, Québec last year. France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the European Union are the other participants.

Littering and waste management has been getting increased attention recently in Canada. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadians throw away 34 million plastic bags each day that often end up in landfill sites. 

On June 7, the Ontario government appointed a special advisor to provide direction to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks on how to develop a new anti-littering program across the province and how to revamp recycling programs so more responsibility is put on producers rather than consumers and municipal governments.

Recycling rates in Ontario have not increased for 15 years and provincial public anti-littering campaigns have declined.

In Argenteuil County, Québec, the county government recently appointed nine citizens as “ambassadors” on how to better sort their household waste, with the goal that none of it ends up going to the landfill site. The county is attempting a zero-landfill waste goal and has expanded municipal composting programs in its towns and villages.

In Hawkesbury, Ontario, council recently approved a motion to have town staff examine if the fine for littering should be increased. Right now, it is a flat fine of $253 and the littering law was written 30 years ago. Some Ontario towns and cities have increased their littering fine to $1,000. 

Mayor Paula Assaly wants littering to decline and for there to be a greater sense of pride in the town and its appearance. A group of volunteers called eClean Hawkesbury has been regularly meeting on weekends to clean up trash at various locations around town.