The Canadian government unveiled a far-reaching plastics waste plan Oct. 7 that bans a handful of single-use products like bags and moves toward mandates for recycled content, producer responsibility and tighter regulations of other plastics.
Government ministers said they are were taking a comprehensive approach to improve management of waste and said their actions are needed to both raise low recycling rates and prevent plastic from getting into the environment.
But a Canadian chemical and plastics association argued against bans and urged the government to hold off on a particularly controversial element of the plan to potentially put "plastics manufactured items" on a list of toxic materials under Canadian environmental laws.
While details remain to be worked out, Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said the government wanted to proceed on several tracks, banning single-use products that are problematic for recycling and litter control as well as adopting measures to improve management of plastics overall.
"This is a comprehensive approach that looks directly to address the most harmful single use plastics while improving the way that we manage other plastics throughout their life cycle," he said, noting that could include minimum recycled content requirements for new products and more responsibility on producers and sellers to collect and recycle plastics.
"This will spur investment in recycling infrastructure, it will drive innovation in product design, and it will generate revenue," he said, arguing that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.8 million tonnes a year and create 42,000 jobs.
The proposal will enact a nationwide ban on checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and food ware. Wilkinson said regulations for those bans would be developed by the end of 2021.