Canada recently listed plastic manufactured items on Schedule 1 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), taking a first regulatory step in addressing plastic pollution.
The move will allow the government to enact legislation that targets sources of plastic pollution and divert them from landfills, incinerators and the natural environment, where 91 per cent of this annual waste winds up. The action will also forward a national ban on single-use plastic items, such as checkout bags, take-out containers, straws, stirrers, cutlery and six-pack rings.
Environmental groups are now urging Canada to act quickly with the promised ban by the end of 2021. “Plastic pollution is a global crisis and it’s gotten worse during the pandemic, with a whopping 250 to 300 per cent increase in single-use plastics alone,” said Karen Wirsig, program manager at Environmental Defence. “The Canadian government must do its part and stand up to companies that profit from pumping plastics into our environment. That’s why we support the minister in standing firm on his intention to regulate plastics under CEPA. The clock is ticking. We’ve got to act now.”
Many countries around the world have already banned certain single-use plastic items and 170 countries have pledged to significantly reduce them by 2030, according to Environmental Defence. The European Union’s single-use plastic ban will be in force this summer.
“We can’t recycle our way out of this, we need to prevent plastic waste and shift to a truly circular economy built on reusables,” said Emily Alfred, senior campaigner at Toronto Environmental Alliance. “We’re happy to see the federal government take this first key step towards banning unnecessary single-use plastics to address the plastics crisis.”