The last half of this current decade might be remembered as the years that a war on plastic was declared as moves to led us away from using single-use plastics continues.
With PEI’s plastic bag ban soon to be in effect, and with other jurisdictions across the country considering a similar ban, the Canadian federal government is looking to ban single-use plastics right out.
This week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will begin the process to have a national ban on single-use plastics. The ban would most likely not be coming into effect until 2021.
While the specifics of the ban still need to be ironed out, particular what products will be put on the banned list, the question many wondered is how will this potential ban impact Canada’s small businesses?
Trudeau said that Canada’s plan will ‘closely mirror’ the European Union’s single-use plastic ban, which will ban almost a dozen single-use products including plastic plates, cutlery, cups, straws, plastic sticks in cotton swabs, balloon sticks, stir sticks and Styrofoam cups and take-out food containers.
While reducing our use of plastic will be good for the environment, opposition to the ban being purposed by the federal government includes concerns for those who make these products and the potential job losses.
Some argue that the private sector should be the ones to take the lead on this matter as the demand from consumers to businesses do something about plastics increases might encourage innovation. Restaurants, including here on PEI, have taken steps to stop using plastic straws for paper ones.
But its private companies who make these products who profit from plastic, so of course they are slow to make changes because those changes could harm their bottom line.
No one wants to see anyone lose a job, but if the private sector wanted to reduce their dependency on plastic they would have done it by now.
The role of the government is to judge the will of the people and the will of people right now is to find ways to reduce society’s dependency on single-use plastic products. A ban could force people to change their habits and reduce Canada’s plastic pollution.
Another argument is that Canada’s plastic output on a global scale as a source of world pollution is minor to compared to other countries. According to Forbes magazine China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are dumping more plastic into oceans than the rest of the world combined.
But that doesn’t mean Canada can’t be seen as a world leader on this matter. Unfortunately, we can’t force other countries to follow suit, but we can do our part to see if we can reduce our own plastic consumption. In an ideal world, maybe our actions will inspire other nations to do something similar.
There are other matters that need to be looked at when considering this plastic ban. Many of those with disabilities rely on straws. Hopefully those individuals will be factored somehow into any decisions the government makes when drafting the regulations for this ban.
The biggest problem right now with the Trudeau’s proposed plastic ban is that it’s short on details. Right now, the impact of the ban is unclear, but it will no doubt, if it comes to fruition, make some drastic changes to Canada’s relationship with single-use plastics.