Question on his family's plastic use leaves Trudeau tongue tied

Evarado Alatorre
Junio 13, 2019

The ban, announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, comes on the heels of countries, states and cities worldwide enacting legislation to scale down or eliminate the use of single-use plastic products - with a particular focus on plastic bags. Europe is putting new onus on producers of plastics to ensure they are recycled or reused, including the makers of fishing nets, which are among the most prevalent plastics trapping fish and polluting water bodies. The proposal is in part a reaction to the lacklustre level of recycling that Canadians are doing of plastics, as some reports peg recycling of plastics at around 11 per cent -meaning the remainder is in the landfill where it doesn't break down, or in our ditches, lakes and rivers.

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The move announced by Trudeau also signals the will by the federal government to retake the leading role that, as a national government, it should play regarding environmental matters, since already some cities, including Montreal, have been adopting policies created to curtail the use of plastic bags, for instance. In addition, the European Union earlier this year passed legislation to ban single-use plastic products starting in 2021.

Plastic straws are already on their way out by restaurants' choice, but will nearly certainly be covered by the Canadian ban nonetheless.

China banned the import of plastic waste a year ago, causing other Southeast Asian nations to become new destinations.

While Twitter user @wikijeff posted a photo with an "available at Loblaws" tag, likely making a dig at the recent decision from the Trudeau government to provide the company millions in aid in order to purchase and install energy efficient fridges.

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But Trudeau said a "national solution" was needed.

"Since our event at the Fox with the Water Brothers, we've been overwhelmed by the many calls to tackle plastic pollution, including from students across our east end community", he said. "We have a responsibility to work with our partners to reduce plastic pollution".

Environment groups were cautiously optimistic about the announcement Monday, saying they want to see the follow-through but noting the best way to reduce plastic garbage is to reduce the plastic we produce and use to begin with.

Canada's biggest advantage as a producer of plastics is its abundant cheap natural gas feedstock and that won't change under the proposed ban, said Ashish Chitalia, principal analyst for polyolefins for consultancy Wood Mackenzie. The slowing down of business could impact their livelihood, the Conservatives said in a statement. "How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags?"

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