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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will ban single-use plastics, which could include bags, straws and cutlery, in Canada as early as 2021.
"We need to cover all of Canada with this decision and that's why the federal government is moving forward on a science-based approach to establishing which harmful single-use plastics we will be eliminating as of 2021," said Trudeau during a stop at the Gault Nature Reserve in Mont St-Hilaire, just outside Montreal, on Monday.
A full list of banned items isn't yet set in stone, but a government source told CBC News that list could also include items like cotton swabs, drink stirrers, plates and balloon sticks. Fast-food containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene, which is similar to white Styrofoam, will also be banned, said the source.
Trudeau said the government will research what items it should ban, and they'll follow the model chosen by the European Union, which voted in March to also ban products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags.
He also revealed intentions to make companies that manufacture plastic products or sell them to take responsibility for recycling their plastic waste.
"Whether we're talking about plastic bottles or cellphones, it will be up to businesses to take responsibility for the plastics they're manufacturing and putting out into the world," said Trudeau.
Countries move to curb marine litter
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the plan lacks any details about how it would impact the economy.
"In the dying days of this government — with a scandal-plagued government, with a prime minister desperate to change the channel — we see another gesture without a plan without any kind of specifics about how this would be implemented or any kind of study on the impact on prices for consumers, on jobs, on how this would affect small businesses," he told reporters in Ottawa
"This is clearly just a government clutching at straws."
Environment and Climate Change Canada says Canadians throw away more than 34 million plastic bags every day that often wind up in landfills, and it can take as long as 1,000 years for them to decay.
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the European Union signed on to the Ocean Plastics charter at the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., last June, agreeing to find ways to deal with marine plastics litter.
All those countries have moved to curb plastic pollution, some of them with laws to reduce the consumption of plastics.
"We've all seen the disturbing images of fish, sea turtles, whales, and other wildlife being injured or dying because of plastic garbage in our oceans. Canadians expect us to act," said Environment Minister Catherine McKenna during an announcement on Monday in Toronto.
A report done earlier this year by consulting firms Deloitte and ChemInfo Services and commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada found that in 2016, only nine per cent of plastic waste was recycled in Canada and 87 per cent ended up in landfills.
Canada has recently been roasted in international headlines after dozens of containers of rotting garbage and contaminated recyclables sat festering in the Philippines.
The company that sent the mislabelled containers is no longer operating and Ottawa is spending $1.14 million to bring those cargo containers back to Canada for disposal.