Breaking news: Canada to ban single-use plastics as soon as 2021

This is breaking news and it was on the BBC about three hours ago. The Trudeau government will ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. “Single-use plastics” means products such as cotton buds, stirrers, plates, cutlery, balloon sticks, and plastic straws to name some examples. The interesting aspect of this announcement is that it is happening quickly.

The most shocking image you'll ever see if you are an environmentalist
The most shocking image you’ll ever see if you are an environmentalist. An albatross feeding its chick with plastic. Horrible. Photo: Chris Jordan.

In addition, white Styrofoam which is expanded polystyrene used in fast food containers and cups will also be banned.

Although the problem is the gravest in Asia, as I understand it – particularly India and China – it is necessary that leading Western countries show the way and begin to motivate less well-developed countries. Most of us know by now that the oceans and the seas are full of plastic particles.

Albatross stomach full of plastic.
Photo: Chris Jordan

Small plastic particles are found at the deepest parts of the oceans and on beaches across the globe. Perhaps the most shocking image to come out of this crisis is an albatross feeding its young with plastic particles. Things just have to change and it is pleasing to note that governments are waking up to it.

In the UK, the government is asleep, obsessed with Brexit and almost nothing else. However, fortunately (in respect of wildlife conservation), the UK is still in the European Union and the EU has voted to ban single-use plastic items to come into force by 2021 in all EU member states. Canada is essentially following the European Union. I hope that when the EU departs the European Union that they also lead the way on environmental issues such as this one.