06/12/2019 14:09 EDT | Updated 06/13/2019 06:33 EDT

Here Are The Plastics Likely To Be Banned In Canada, And The Alternatives

Disposable shopping bags, cutlery and straws could all be prohibited.

Some popular household items could fall under a proposed federal ban on single-use plastic products. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed Ottawa’s plan to tackle this problem. In a news release, the federal government announced they would be banning “harmful” single-use plastics by “as early as 2021.”

The federal government is looking at ways to reduce plastic waste in a bid to protect the environment. Less than 10 per cent of the plastic used in Canada gets recycled, according to the government, and it’s a problem that presents a “global challenge that requires immediate action.”

“Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030,” the government statement said. “We’ve reached a defining moment, and this is a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore.”

In March, the European Union announced it would moved forward with a plan to ban products where “alternatives exist on the market.” These items included cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, polystyrene containers and oxo-degradable plastics, which are what plastic shopping bags are made of. There are also efforts to tackle the plastic waste associated with fishing.

The full list of items that will be banned in Canada has not yet been released, but the prime minister said those decisions will be based on scientific evidence. It’s also not yet clear how the government will define single-use plastics. Trudeau acknowledged it will be up to the companies that produce these products to be responsible for them.

Here is a list of some of the products that could be banned in Canada.

Mark Baker/The Associated Press via The Canadian Press
A shopper in New Zealand is seen here putting plastic bags filled with groceries in the trunk of her car. A proposed ban on single-use plastics could make these bags much harder to find in Canada.

Plastic bags

These containers are used all over the planet, and there is plenty of evidence for it. Some parts of the country have banned them, while others have imposed fees for using them. However, the best option for the environment may be to bring your own reusable bag, made of paper or plant-based products, such as cotton or jute.

Plastic cutlery, plates and cups

Hosting an event can be hard work, which is why so many people prefer to spend a few bucks on plastic knives, forks, spoons, plates and cups for their functions. It may be easier in the short term, but there are long-term consequences for the environment. The more eco-friendly option is to go with silverware and reusable plates and cups.

Plastic straws

These products were one of the early targets in the fight against plastic pollution, and there are already efforts being made by some companies in Canada to shift away from using these products. Paper straws serve as a viable alternative. There are also stainless steel, glass, bamboo and other variations available for sale in stores and online.

Plastic wrap

Sandwich bags are staples in many Canadian households, but that soon could change. It might be best to bring a lunch to school or work in a reusable storage container to minimize waste. There are also types of parchment paper and aluminum foil that can be composted or recycled.

Plastic water bottles

In a developed country like Canada, tap water is generally safe to drink in most places. Filling up from the tap using a reusable glass, metal, ceramic or plant-based plastic is a good alternative for the convenience of a plastic water bottle. Carton boxes of water are also available, but it’s best to find a version that is recyclable.

Plastic six-pack rings

These products are commonly made with a form of plastic that can’t be recycled, which is why they’re usually thrown in the trash. Some companies have developed biodegradable options as a replacement. Another option would be to use a cardboard box to carry items, or bring your own reusable bag.

Plastic cotton buds

There’s a debate over whether cotton buds should even be used to remove wax from ears, but there are several options for people who insist on using them. There are paper-based swabs available, as well as the bamboo version.

Polystyrene containers

You may want to think twice before you ask for a takeout container from a restaurant. Foam polystyrene products may be recyclable in some municipalities, but not all. It might be better to ask for a paper-based takeout tray, or bring your own reusable container. Some plant-based alternatives are also available on the market.

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