Environment, News

Canada bans some single-use plastics

Some plastic products will be banned in Canada as early as next year, the federal government has announced. The ban is to help reduce pollution, especially in oceans and lakes.

The soon-to-be banned items are:

  • plastic straws
  • plastic stir sticks
  • plastic six-pack rings (that connect cans of pop, for instance)
  • plastic grocery bags
  • plastic cutlery
  • some takeout food containers

They are known as single-use plastics. Instead of recycling them, many people just throw them in the garbage after they use them once.

“Every year, Canadians throw away three million tonnes of plastic waste, only nine per cent of which is recycled,” according to a federal government news release. “Plastic is polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans, harming wildlife, and generating microplastics in the water we use and drink.”

Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change announces that certain single-use plastics will be banned in Canada. Photo: Government of Canada.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, made the announcement on October 7 at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

The ban is part of the Canadian government’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.


Take a look at the infographic (illustration) at the top of this article. Why do you think the Canadian government is banning these particular items?

The ban will go into effect “as early as 2021,” according to Canada’s federal government. Do you think this can happen? Why or why not?

What are some of the effects of plastics on our lakes and oceans?

It may be hard to think of any “bad things” about banning pollution-causing plastics, but some people–depending on their point-of-view–may not be happy about these items being banned. Think about five or six groups that have different points of view on this issue. Use a T-chart to list the good things (pros) and bad things (cons) about the ban. (Here are two CBC articles that may help you consider various points of view: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/single-use-plastics-ban-new-nafta-1.5758676 and


The Government of Canada news release about the announcement, with more information about the ban and other measures: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2020/10/canada-one-step-closer-to-zero-plastic-waste-by-2030.html

Canada’s “Zero Plastic Waste” initiative: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/managing-reducing-waste/zero-plastic-waste/canada-action.html

BBC News article about Canada’s ban: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48477087

A study by Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab compares people’s use of plastics before and during the pandemic. Twenty-nine per cent of respondents said they are buying more plastic packaged goods during the pandemic than before. https://www.dal.ca/sites/agri-food/research/plastic-food-packaging–before-and-after-covid-19.html