“I am very pleased to announce that as early as 2021 Canada will ban harmful, single-use plastics from coast to coast,” Mr Trudeau said, calling the issue a “global challenge”.
Citing the example of the EU parliament, which voted overwhelmingly in March to impose a ban on a range single-use plastics, Mr Trudeau said that Canada, as the country has the longest coastline in the world, was in a unique position to do something about plastic pollution in the ocean.
“Many other countries are doing that and Canada will be one of them,” Mr Trudeau said. “This is a big step but we know can do this for 2021.”
Mr Trudeau’s government says that less than 10 per cent of plastics are currently recycled in Canada, and that each year a million birds around the world – plus more than 100,000 marine mammals – suffer injury or death by becoming entangled in plastic or ingesting it through the food chain.
The prime minister said that given the many images of choked oceans that are now broadcast around the world, it is difficult to explain a lack of action to his children.
“You’ve all heard the stories and seen the photos. And to be honest as a dad it is tough trying to explain to my kids,” Mr Trudeau said.
“How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches across the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags? How do I tell them that against all odds, you will find plastic at the very deepest point of the Pacific Ocean,” he added.
“As parents we’re at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles,” Mr Trudeau said. “That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.”
The EU has estimated that the changes it has proposed will cost around €259m to €695m (£231m to £620m) a year. It is not yet clear what costs Canada will incur under Mr Trudeau’s proposal.
The list of items that Canada will ban has not yet been set and will be determined based on a science-based review.
However, the government is considering items such as plastic bags, water bottles and straws.