Single-use plastics will be banned in Canada by 2021, the Canadian government announced Monday.
The products are expected to include cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, bags and drink stirrers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a new conference. However, he did not name specific products, but said the most harmful ones would be targeted after scientific study.
The goal is “zero plastic waste (from) coast to coast” that will be in effect “as early as 2021,” he said.
The move follows the establishment of a Canada-led Ocean Plastics Charter announced by Trudeau at the G7 conference last year.
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the European Union joined the charter in an effort to reduce marine plastic litter.
Trudeau said action has to be taken because plastics is malevolent in invading all aspects of lives, including in the deepest trenches of oceans. As well, it is difficult to find areas at beaches that are not littered with plastics, he said. Dead whales have been found with all kinds of plastics in them, too.
Trudeau asked Canadians to remember trips to the cottage, camping and canoeing and then he asked them to imagine what it would be like to find dead birds, fish and areas littered with shopping bags.
“That’s the fate of our kids if we do not act,” he said.
Studies show that less that 10 percent of plastic in Canada is recycled. Meanwhile it is estimated that without action, Canadians will dispose of about CAN$11 billion ($8.3 billion) by 2030.
“We have reached a defining moment,” Trudeau said, “and this is a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore.”
Large corporations will be the immediate targets, “the Coca-Colas and the Unilevers of the world” and they will be responsible for the plastics they generate, he said.
It is estimated 150 million tons of plastics are dumped in the ocean annually.
One million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die or suffer injuries worldwide when they get caught in plastic or ingest it.