Imagine this: We could eliminate the equivalent of over a million garbage bags full of garbage each year. Canada is trying to do just that, as the northern country has just adopted a world-leading ban on harmful disposable plastic. The ban will result in the estimated elimination of over 1.3 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution.
The United States contributes more to the polluting flood than any other nation and generates about 287 pounds of plastic per person annually.
The Government of Canada is taking the lead among its international peers in banning harmful plastics and keeping them out of the environment. The June 20 announcement outlined the final rules for banning disposable plastic, including:
- cash bags
- food service that is made of or contains problematic plastic that is difficult to recycle
- ring holders
- touch sticks
- most straws
Three milestones for the target year were presented:
- The production of plastic will end with effect from December 2022.
- The sale of plastics will be banned from December 2023 (the 18 months in between should allow sufficient time for companies to adjust and empty their existing stocks).
- Exports of plastics in the 6 categories will be banned by the end of 2025.
The action is part of a larger agenda to demonstrate leadership that will protect biodiversity, promote a healthy environment at home and around the world, and help meet the commitments in the Ocean Plastics Charter and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Quick facts about harmful plastics
In Canada, up to 15 billion plastic bag bags are used each year, and approximately 16 million straws are used daily. Disposable plastics like these make up most of the plastic waste found on coastlines across Canada.
Sales of disposable flexible plastic straws will be restricted from December 2023. Exceptions to the ban on straws allow flexible disposable plastic straws to remain available to people in Canada who need them for medical or accessibility reasons. This includes for use in the home, in a social setting or in health settings, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities. All other types of disposable plastic straws will be banned.
The ban on the manufacture and import of ring holders and flexible straws packed with beverage containers (eg juice cans) will enter into force in June 2023, and the ban on the sale of these goods will take effect in June 2024. These transitional timelines recognize the complexity of the conversion of production lines for these products.
The government has also released two guidance documents: one to help companies adapt to the rules and another to help companies and people in Canada choose more sustainable alternatives to disposable plastic.
Released October 7, 2020, the report entitled Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution helped inform Canada’s policy developments and actions and guide research on plastic pollution in Canada.
A draft of the rules was published in Canada GazettePart I, for a comment period of 70 days on 25 December 2021. The feedback received was taken into account in the development of the final rules.
Moving towards a more circular economy for plastics could reduce carbon emissions by 1.8 megatons annually, generate billions of dollars in revenue and create approximately 42,000 jobs by 2030.
In early summer, the Canadian government will begin consulting on approaches to a federal public plastics registry and developing labeling rules that will prevent the use of the hunting arrow symbol on plastic items unless at least 80% of Canada’s recycling facilities accept them and they have reliable end markets.
United States and harmful plastics
Some states have launched a crackdown on New York implementing a ban on disposable plastic bags by 2020. Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in California to reduce plastic production for disposable products such as shampoo bottles and food packaging by 25% from the next decade.
The United States ranks as the world’s leading contributor of plastic waste and needs a national strategy to combat the problem, according to a report mandated by Congress. In it, the authors remind us that the production of plastic waste is directly related to the amount of plastic produced and used.
The harmful plastic pollution is a specific example of pollution destruction today. The visibility of, for example, global marine plastic waste, coupled with increasing evidence of its ubiquitous, destructive impact on marine health and marine wildlife and transport through the food web, has brought widespread public attention. The report outlines how managed solid waste in the United States in theory should not contribute to marine plastic waste, the authors say, because it is contained in treatment and / or transformation into other products (recycling, composting, incineration) or contained in a constructed landfill environment.
In practice, plastic waste still “leaks” from managed waste systems when it is blown out of bins, intentionally or unintentionally through actions such as illegal dumping and dumping, or where it is unregulated. Recycling presents many challenges, including incompatibilities between different types of plastics and large differences in processing requirements.
On World Ocean Day, June 8, 2022, Home Secretary Deb Haaland issued the Secretary’s Order 3407, which aims to reduce the purchase, sale and distribution of disposable plastic products and packaging with a goal of phasing out disposable plastic products on departmental areas by 2032. is part of the implementation of President Biden’s Decree 14057, which calls on federal agencies to minimize waste and support markets for recycled products. It includes plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws and cups.
A resolution adopted in March by the United Nations sets out an ambitious plan for the development of a legally binding treaty to reduce plastic waste. The global treaty to “stop plastic pollution” could result in restrictions on plastic production or impose rules to make plastic easier and less toxic to recycle.
“The high and rapidly rising levels of plastic pollution represent a serious global environmental problem,” said the UN resolution, which also recognized the urgent need to strengthen global coordination, cooperation and governance to take immediate action against long-term elimination. of plastic pollution. “
However, the draft treaties are preliminary and have received setbacks from the oil and petrochemical industries.
The US orders are a starting point, but it will take an all-encompassing approach to solving the US harmful plastic problem. Start locally. Contact your preferred beverage retailer and request refillable containers. Shout corporatocracies that use deficits to hide their plastic production responsibilities. Be a pest to your state legislators and ask them to hold plastic pollution producers accountable.
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