The Canadian government is moving to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday in Toronto. The government is considering items such as water bottles, plastic bags and straws, although Trudeau said “a science-based approach” will determine which products to ban.
Canada’s government is drawing inspiration from the European Union’s ban on many plastics earlier this year, Trudeau said Monday. The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted in March to impose a wide-ranging ban on single-use plastics to counter pollution from discarded items that end up in waterways and fields. EU member states have given their support, but need to vote on the measure for it to go into effect.The EU’s measure affects a range of plastic products for which reasonable alternatives exist, from straws to earbuds, starting in just 18 months. Disposable utensils would not be completely off-limits, but the EU measure calls for them to be made of sustainable materials when possible. The approved EU legislation also sets a goal of having plastic bottles 90 percent recycled by 2025 and to cut litter from the 10 items that turn up in oceans most often in half.
The EU estimated the changes will cost the bloc’s economy 259 million euros to 695 million euros a year, or around $290 million to $780 million. Plastics production is 20 times higher now than during the 1960s, the EU said. A study last year determined that just 9% of all the plastic that has ever been produced has been recycled.China’s decision to ban most plastic waste imports last year helped spur the EU’s ban, and is having wide-ranging effects in North America. After China’s move, other Southeast Asian nations became new destinations for plastics, prompting them to issue their own bans after becoming overwhelmed by plastic waste.In May, the Philippines shipped 69 containers of garbage back to Canada. Its officials said the garbage was illegally transported and protested being treated like dumpsites by wealthier nations.U.S. states and cities are also banning various forms of plastic, with Hawaii and Maine recently cracking down on polystyrene, the lightweight packaging known by the brand name Styrofoam.Still, local plastic bans tackle just part of the pollution problem, said Karen Panetta, dean of graduate education at Tufts University’s school of engineering and a fellow at IEEE.”When you ban something, you can’t just say, ‘don’t use it,’ you need to come up with an alternative. The alternative is coming up with more biodegradable plastics, or more cost-effective reusable type of things,” she said. “But we’re not there yet.”– CBS News’ Irina Ivanova contributed reporting.
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