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The Liberal government’s single-use plastic ban, explained

The Liberal government's single-use plastic ban, explained

This week the Liberal government announced it will ban some single-use plastic items in an effort to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, but only a limited number of products fall under the ban and some of the prohibitions don’t kick in until 2025. 

The six categories of single-use plastics being banned make up about three per cent of the plastic waste generated annually in Canada, and while the list is short, not everything on it is being outright banned.

For example, some plastic straws are banned but there are exceptions that only restricts others. 

CBC News took a look at the regulations to see what is being banned and when, how the policy announced this week will impact the campaign to cut back on plastics globally and what was left off the banned list. 

We also put a list of questions to Environment Canada, including some that were submitted by readers to the Ask CBC team. Some of Environment Canada’s responses to those questions can be found below. 

What products are being banned by these new regulations?

There are six categories of single-use plastic products that are being banned, including:

  • Checkout bags.
  • Cutlery.
  • Takeout ware with plastics that are hard to recycle.
  • Plastic aluminum can ring carriers.
  • Stir sticks.
  • Straws.

Why are plastic drink lids for disposable beverages not on the list?

While plastic cup lids are one of the top items found on shoreline cleanups, the federal government said that it settled on the six categories of products for a number of reasons: they are found in the environment during clean ups, they pose a threat to wildlife, they are difficult to recycle and they can be replaced with alternatives. 

“With regard to plastic lids used for disposable coffee cups in particular, limited alternatives to this item were identified as being available at this time,” the government said in a statement. 

The federal government said it is continuing to monitor data and evidence and will decide if other single-use plastic products can and should be banned in future. 

Will this make much of a dent in Canada’s plastic waste?

Not a large one.

According to environmental groups like Greenpeace Canada, the six categories of products only make up about five per cent of the total amount of plastic waste Canada created in a year, according to data from 2019. 

The federal government’s estimate is even lower. In the regulation details published Wednesday, it estimated about three per cent of plastic waste created using data from 2019, or about 150,000…

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