Canada currently recycles less than 10 per cent of the three million tonnes of plastic it produces each year, and much of that is single-use plastic which ends up in landfills. Here are the six every-day items that the federal government will ban by the end of next year.
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Light-weight, fly-away shopping bags are a main cause of pollution on land and in the sea. The plastic degrades into smaller pieces, which are ingested by marine life. In Canada, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year.
Polystyrene containers are difficult to recycle and often end up in landfill. The light-weight material easily blows away, contributing to urban and marine litter. A recent study estimates more than two billion takeout containers are used every year in the European Union alone.
Takeout food containers
Plastic cutlery can’t be recycled because it’s too small to be sorted at recycling facilities. The plastic ends up in landfills or in the ocean, where it finds its way into the guts of turtles and fish.
Plastic rings used in packaging of cans and bottles are infamously linked to deadly entanglement of birds and marine life. Many U.S. states have been banning their use since the 1990s.
Plastic draws don’t biodegrade. They break down into ever-smaller particles, releasing harmful chemicals into the soil, air and water. Mistaken for food, straws are also ingested by animals and birds. Some fast-food restaurants have already started to replace plastic straws.with paper.
Like cutlery, plastic stir sticks are too small to be sorted at recycling facilities. They end up in landfills, where they exist virtually unchanged for hundreds of years.