Even though many of us consider plastics to be a normal part of our daily lives, it’s about time we start to change the way we think. According to the Plastic Soup Foundation, more than 400 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide each and every year. A number that can seem elusive to our human minds and that can therefore miss its importance. So let’s try to put it into perspective. Since 1950, about 1.000 kilos of plastic per head of the present worldwide population have been manufactured. And still, according to the Plastic Soup Foundation, about 79% of all that plastic ended up on rubbish tips or thrown away in the environment. Meaning we’re being presented with a problem that’s almost too big for us.
Almost, because as a human species, we still have the ability to (re)act. We can still decide to turn things around and tackle the enormous plastic soup we’re being faced with. Sure, what’s already been produced won’t go away. Unless we burn it – which certainly won’t help our climate crisis – the only thing we can do is to keep on recycling it over and over again. But what hasn’t been manufactured yet shouldn’t be.
More and more people are realising this and are therefore taking matters into their own hands. Whatever the scale you’re working on, every little effort counts. Maybe you’re just an individual who refuses to continue purchasing anything packed in plastic. Maybe you’ve got a small business and you’re consequently opting for more ecological options. Or maybe you’re a government and you can take things to the next level by defending the ban of plastics on a national scale.
That’s exactly what Canada is about to do, at least when it comes to single-use plastics, which, according to Sarah King, head of Greenpeace Canada’s oceans and plastics campaign, isn’t nearly enough.
We still aren’t even at the starting line. The government needs to shift into high gear by expanding the ban list and cutting overall plastic production. Relying on recycling for the other 95% is a denial of the scope of the crisis.Sarah King said in a statement
Latest country to join the plastic-free mission
But that doesn’t take away the fact that it’s a beginning. Canada certainly isn’t the first country to opt for a single-use plastic-free society. France, Spain, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom are just a few of the countries who’ve opened the way towards the – not necessarily popular – measure. But Canada is in fact the latest country to join that list and will be prohibiting the manufacture and import of single-use plastics from December 2022 onwards. However, businesses will still be able to sell their stock until one year later, or December 2023. As a third step in the banning-plan, Canadian factories will no longer be able to export single-use plastics anymore either from December 2025 onwards. By doing so, the country hopes to be able to influence the plastic problem on a more global scale as well.
“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,” Steven Guilbeault, the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said in a statement.
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.Steven Guilbeault, Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change
So, what exactly will be forbidden when it comes to single-use plastic? Checkout bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, stirring sticks, ring carriers such as those placed around drinks cans and most straws will no longer be allowed to be produced or sold. Some medical equipment, however, is exempt from the ban.
Over the next 10 years, this ban will result in the estimated elimination of over 1.3 million tonnes of plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution. That’s equal to a million garbage bags full of litter. More details here: https://t.co/wEUHNriWDM— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2022
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously promised in 2019 to phase out single-use plastics in his country. Every year about 15 million shopping bags and 16 million straws are being used and thrown away in Canada. Meaning the new measure could, according to estimations, prevent more than 1.3 million tons of hard-to-recycle plastic waste over the next decade. Good news now that we’re quickly discovering that micro-plastics, a direct consequence of the poorly-handled plastic waste on our planet, have made their way to some of the most remote locations on Earth – including the Mount Everest.