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Environment Canada to release science review backing need for plastics ban

Plastics are seen being gathered for recycling at a depot in North Vancouver on June, 10, 2019. Environment Canada is releasing scientific evidence today to back up the government's bid to ban most single-use plastics next year. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last June the government was getting ready to prohibit the production and sale of single-use plastics in Canada, such as drinking straws, takeout containers and plastic cutlery. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

OTTAWA — Environment Canada is releasing scientific evidence today to back up the government’s bid to ban most single-use plastics next year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last June the government was getting ready to prohibit the production and sale of single-use plastics in Canada, such as drinking straws, takeout containers and plastic cutlery.

The first step in the process requires a scientific assessment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Today, Environment Canada officials will release the results of that work.

A recent audit of Canada’s plastic production and recycling industries done for the department found less than 10 per cent of the plastic products used in Canada are recycled.

In 2016, 3.3 million tonnes of plastic ended up in the trash — 12 times the amount of plastic that was recycled.

A small amount of plastics is burned for energy at five Canadian waste-to-energy plants.

Almost 90 per cent of the plastic recycled in Canada is from packaging.

Canada’s domestic recycling industry is quite small, with fewer than a dozen companies. Most of Canada’s plastics destined for recycling end up overseas, where tracking what happens to them is difficult. Many end up being burned or thrown into trash piles somewhere else.

The audit found it is usually cheaper and easier to produce new plastic and throw it away than it is to recycle, reuse or repair it.

In 2018, when Canada hosted the G7 leaders’ summit, Canada and four other leading economies signed a charter pledging that by 2040 all plastic produced in their countries would be reused, recycled or burned to produce energy. The United States and Japan stayed out.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2020.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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