Plastics are seen being gathered for recycling at a depot in North Vancouver on June, 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Plastics ban coming after Environment Canada science review backs need

In 2016, 29,000 tonnes of plastic garbage ended up as litter in Canada, report says

A national ban on many single-use plastics is on track for next year, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says, after a government report concluded Thursday that there is more than enough evidence proving plastic pollution is harmful.

“We will be moving towards a ban on harmful single-use plastics and we will be doing that in 2021,” said Wilkinson.

The federal Liberals promised last June they’d seek to ban plastic versions of number of products such as straws, take-out containers and grocery bags. The ban would happen under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which requires a scientific assessment of the problem first.

A draft version of that assessment was released Thursday. It will be open to public comment until April 1.

The report says that in 2016, 29,000 tonnes of plastic garbage, the equivalent of about 2.3 billion single-use plastic water bottles, ended up as litter in Canada — on beaches, in parks, in lakes, and even, says the report, in the air.

Some of the litter is easily visible: pieces bigger than 5 mm are called “macroplastics.” But much of it is plastic most of us can’t easily see, known as ”microplastics” and “microfibres.” These are tiny remnants of plastic smaller than 5 mm, that come when larger pieces of plastic are broken apart. They are also shed off things like clothes made of synthetic fabric, fleece blankets, and tires.

The science looks at the impact of all types of plastics and concluded that evidence is clear macroplastics are hurting wildlife: Dead birds found with plastic in their intestines, whales that wash up on shore with stomachs filled with tonnes of plastic they ingested as they swam, including flip flops and nylon ropes.

In one case, a turtle was found emaciated and dying. When the plastic was removed from its digestive tract, the turtle recovered.

The evidence is less clear about the harmful impacts of people or wildlife ingesting microplastics, and the scientists recommended further study be undertaken. A new fund of $2.2 million over the next two years will fund research on microplastics.

Wilkinson said the finding on macroplastics is enough to proceed with the ban.

READ MORE: B.C. wants feedback on plans to ban, reduce and recycle plastics

He said the specific items that will be banned are still being worked out with scientists. A list will be released in the next few months, he said.

Plastic bags, straws, bottles and Styrofoam containers meant to be used once and discarded are all expected to be on the list but nothing has yet been confirmed.

Wilkinson said there will be time given to businesses who rely on those products to adapt but he is firm that the government is not going to wait several years.

“I think the Canadian public wants to see action quickly so certainly if there is a phase-in period, it won’t be an extensive one.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Environment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Positivity rocks! Golden resident brings positivity to community through painted rocks.

Brandi Romano hand crafts the rocks with her kids as a distraction from COVID-19

BREAKING: Inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre tests positive for COVID-19

This is B.C.’s first community outbreak at a corrections facility

Answer your phone, Vernon school district says

No caller ID or unknown callers could be your child’s teacher reaching out

COVID-19: Interior Health orders closure of all fitness centres until May 30

The order is subject to revision, cancellation, or extension

North Okanagan chaplains seeks support to feed homeless on Easter

North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy hoping to feed pizza and pancakes to its ‘guys and gals’

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

Kelowna has high compliance when it comes to physical distancing in public

The city received an average of 15 calls a day complaining people don’t distance

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

Dogs are property, not kids, judge tells former Salmon Arm couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

Three stabbings in one night in Kamloops

At least one of the stabbings is connected to the local drug trade

Surprise parade makes Shuswap boy’s 10th birthday less isolated

Friends and strangers alike help Declan Toner celebrate his “best birthday ever”

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

Most Read