Canada will ban many single-use plastic items by 2021, including bags, straws, cutlery, and stirring sticks, to cut harmful waste damaging the country’s ecosystems. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the measures on June 10.
“Plastic waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators, litters our parks and beaches, and pollutes our rivers, lakes, and oceans, entangling and killing turtles, fish, and marine mammals,” said Trudeau in a statement. “Less than 10% of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030.”
According to the Canadian government, every year 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals worldwide are injured or die when they mistake plastic for food. Globally, a truckload of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute, the statement said. Trudeau said his government will work with companies that use or create plastic products to set targets on waste.
The news comes on the heels of a similar ban the European Parliament passed in late March, with a target to recycle 90% of plastic beverage bottles by 2029. In May, the United Kingdom followed suit with a plastic ban by 2020. Officials estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers are used in England every year.
A report by the European Commission found that 80% of litter in the world’s oceans is plastic, due to its slow decomposition. Plastic has been found inside marine animals including sea turtles, seals, whales, and birds.