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By Cassie MacDonell

Local Journalism Initiative

On Monday, the Government of Canada announced that some single-use plastics are to be banned over the next 18 months. Expect to see a decline of single-use plastics such as grocery bags, cutlery, plastic six-pack rings that are used to hold drinks together, stir sticks, straws, and takeout containers.

“With these new regulations, we're taking a historic step forward in reducing plastic pollution, and keeping our communities and the places we love clean," said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault in a press conference. Although he admitted Canada is not the first to ban plastics, he insisted Canada is among its leaders.

By the end of this year, manufacturing and importing some single-use plastics will be banned. By the end of next year, the sale of these items in Canada will be prohibited, which will give a one-year gap between the two new regulations, in order to give businesses enough time to deplete their existing stock. Two year later, at the end of 2025, exporting these single-use plastics will be banned.

Canadians will need to find alternatives for common single-use plastic items such as grocery bags and straws. Some businesses have already taken steps towards reducing single-use plastic, such as Provigo in Lennoxville, which no longer sells single-use plastic bags. Renée Rosteius, Sherbrooke resident, mentions she is optimistic about the ban, as the move will force businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores to be more environmentally friendly. However, she also explained that she has faced, and most likely will face, some initial difficulties with the single-use plastic transformation. She used her experience at Lennoxville’s Provigo as an example. “I’m all for this ban-- I bring reusable bags when I shop, anyways. But once in a while I forget. So it kind of sucks to end up paying something like a dollar each to buy a reusable bag at Provigo, instead of just getting the plastic one for a few cents,” she confessed. “If I drove instead of walked, I probably would have just transferred my stuff straight from the shopping cart to the car, no bags needed,” she laughed.

“I’m just happy because the environment will be happy. It might make life a bit more difficult, but I think it’s worth it,” she said, “although I’m still getting used to paper straws.” Over the next decade, the Canadian ban on single-use plastics will result in the estimated elimination of over 1.3 million tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution, which is equivalent to over a million garbage bags full of litter. “It’s nice to see (single-use) plastic is being eliminated at a corporate level, rather than leaving it up to individuals to decide whether or not to be eco-friendly,” she added.

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