By Jenn Watt
Plans by the federal government to ban six single-use plastic items and establish recycled content requirements for packaging and products are up for public discussion. Plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and hard-to-recycle foodware were identified by the government to be banned.
The move is part of an effort to reduce microplastics in water and plastic pollution in oceans, rivers and lakes. Three million tonnes of plastic waste is thrown away each year by Canadians, of which only nine per cent is recycled and 29,000 tonnes ends up in the natural environment, information from Environment and Climate Change Canada states.
Locally, 191 tonnes of plastic packaging was recycled in the Municipality of Dysart et al in 2019, including mixed plastics, film, PET (commonly used in water bottles), and HDPE (a thicker plastic used in milk bottles).
In Highlands East, 68 tonnes of plastic were recycled in 2019, with PET and films making up about 72 per cent of plastics recycled that year. In 2018, Highlands East sent 73 tonnes of plastic to facilities for recycling.
And while a ban on specific plastics would reduce how much municipalities send to recycling facilities, the goal is also to eliminate these plastics in landfills and the natural environment.
“Canadians see the effects of plastic pollution in their communities and waterways and they expect the government to take action,” Jonathan Wilkinson, environment minister, said in a statement. “Our government is introducing a comprehensive plan to get to zero plastic waste. Our plan embraces the transition towards a circular economy, recycled-content standards and targets for recycling rates.”
Single-use plastics make up most of the plastic litter found in Canada’s freshwater environments, ministry information states. Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used each year in Canada.
Comments on the government’s plan are being accepted until Dec. 9 and regulations will be finalized about a year later. A link to the discussion paper can be found here. Comments can be sent to the director of the plastics and marine litter division at firstname.lastname@example.org.