The Government of Canada announced today a series of moves aimed at keeping single-use plastics out of the environment, including the introduction of bans on single-use plastic shopping bags and most plastic straws.

Up to 15 billion plastic checkout bags are used yearly in Canada, and approximately 16 million straws are used daily. According to the government, moving toward a more circular economy for plastics could reduce carbon emissions by 1.8 megatonnes annually.

Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Health, said:

“We know that plastic pollution can be found in outdoor air, food and drinking water, so by addressing this, we will improve health outcomes for all Canadians. These new regulations mark a turning point for Canada. We are taking strong action to protect the environment, creating cleaner and healthier communities across the country.”

The new regulations will apply to checkout bags, cutlery, food service ware made from or containing hard-to-recycle plastics, ring carries, stir sticks, and straws, with some exceptions related to medical or accessibility reasons.

The regulation will see a ban on the manufacture and import of these items beginning in December 2022, with the sale of the items prohibited from December 2023 to provide businesses with enough time to transition and deplete their existing stocks. Additionally, the government will also prohibit the export of plastics in the six categories by the end of 2025, making Canada the first among peer jurisdictions to do this internationally.

Over the next 10 years, the ban is expected to result in the elimination of over 1.3 million tons of hard-to-recycle plastic waste and over 22, 000 tons of plastic pollution, equivalent to over a million garbage bags of litter.

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change said:

“By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics. After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags. With these new regulations, we’re taking a historic step forward in reducing plastic pollution, and keeping our communities and the places we love clean.”