The Justin Trudeau government on Monday banned plastic straws and bags in its continued push for ecologically-friendly policies and to move away from petroleum-based products such as single-use plastics.
The move, which will undoubtedly inconvenience consumers, was announced by Trudeau on social media, who bragged about keeping his promise to “ban harmful single-use plastics.”
“The ban on the making and importing of plastic bags, cutlery, straws and other items comes into effect in December 2022 — and selling these items is prohibited as of December 2023,” wrote Trudeau.
In addition to plastic straws and bags, the ban also extends to stir sticks and cutlery, with “some exceptions” according to a press release put out by the Canadian government, which notes that the new provision prevents 1.3 million tons of plastic waste over the next decade.
“By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics,” stated Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault. “After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags. 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.”
In the United States, similar efforts are being made to ban single-use plastics. The city of San Francisco was the first to ban plastic straws and cutlery in 2019.
The push to ban single-use plastics may have serious ramifications for industries connected to plastic manufacturing. While it may reduce pollution, other industries that demand the use of plastic production will have to pay increased costs as plastic manufacturers scale back production, leading to mass layoffs and increased costs.
As detailed by National Geographic in 2019, restricting consumers from buying plastic bags has come with serious “growing pains” as it has led to a 40% increase in demand for trash bags, which offset the reduction in shopping bags typically recycled to dispose of garbage, according to a study conducted by Rebecca Taylor, an economist at the University of Sydney.
In Kenya, consumers have resorted to importing illegal plastic bags from neighbouring countries to make up for the country banning the production and sale of plastic bags.