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What can we learn from Canada banning single-use plastics?

What can we learn from Canada banning single-use plastics?

As nations across the globe pledge and sign to significantly reduce plastic, Canada is front running to be the country to follow. By the end of 2021, Canada is set to have banned 6 single-use plastics with plans to actively find and recover plastics that have been mistakenly thrown away and recycle them. 

The issue with single-use plastics is not only the pollution caused to produce them but also their disposal. With more plastic being produced than effectively breaking down, we’ve found ourselves in an endless cycle where demand is causing unchangeable and unmanageable quantities of plastic. The unfortunate fact is that it takes 500 years for plastic to break down, meaning every piece of plastic that has ever been made, still exists. 

Globally, countries have been trying to do better and encourage their population to use less plastic. In 2015 the United Kingdom added a tax on plastic bags to discourage use. Kenya completely banned single-use plastic bags and Zimbabwe introduced fines for using polystyrene food containers in 2017. The United States has also introduced bans but without legal reinforcement and other countries are set to enforce bans in the future. However, Canada has made the commitment to remove 6 environmentally harmful plastics - the biggest ban yet. 

Canada will have banned: 

  • Single-use plastic bags
  • Plastic Straws
  • Six-Pack Rings
  • Plastic Stirrers
  • Plastic Cutlery
  • Plastic Take-Away Food Containers

Although it’s been accepted that bans are only part of the solution, the initiative they’ve outline also includes a national drive to have zero plastic waste by 2030. With countries set to bring bans, fines and other penalties for consumers and businesses in the future, Canada has made headlines for its bold and confident outline. 

It’s clear that people across the globe understand the effects of plastic waste on our world. With many countries dipping into smaller commitments it makes a transparent statement that we all know we have to change. In the effectiveness of Canada’s ban on plastic, it can provide confidence to other countries that the positive effects outweigh any initial concerns. 

The impact specific bans like this have socially and economically can have both positive and negative consequences. Businesses who use these plastics have to find alternatives to replace

them with which costs both time and resources. The research that has to be completed could include needing new qualified employees, new budgets and there’s no guarantee that their solution will be completed in time or be a life-long replacement. 

Socially there is excitement and hesitation. Not only from the Canadian population but all over the world, people are praising them for their forward-thinking and commitment. As with any change, especially with the phrasing ‘ban’, some think this is an unnecessary control, but looking at the change needed for the climate, Canada will be making history for starting it. 

As we look at Canada’s chosen path and the further implications it will have, it can be seen as one of the most positive commitments. By reducing and removing the problem which is used so frequently in daily life, their country will collectively reduce their carbon footprint and make a difference to our environment.
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