The Canadian government has taken definitive action to eliminate six types of plastics within the next several years. According to news reports, Canadian companies will no longer be able to make or import plastic bags and food containers. By the end of 2023, companies will not be able to sell the items in Canada. They will be banned from exporting such items by the end of 2025. Do the bans go far enough? Will they ever go far enough?
Other types of plastics are included in the ban as well. Think things like plastic straws and the plastic caddies that hold 6-packs of soda or beer together. They are all going bye-bye at some point. But wait, there’s more. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has said this is just the start. The government hopes to add more plastic items to the banned list at some point in the future.
Greenpeace Canada doesn’t think the measure goes far enough. They point out that the banned items make up just a fraction of the total amount of plastic that gets discarded in Canada every year. They want to see the government be more aggressive in an effort to eliminate as much plastic as possible.
Banning Bags and Straws
Here in our own country, there have been increased efforts in recent years to ban things like plastic bags and straws. The plastic grocery ban was especially interesting during the height of the COVID pandemic. A society scared to death of coronavirus decided that plastic bags were better than fabric because they were single use. For that brief window of time, plastic was no longer the enemy.
At any rate, companies started jumping on the anti-plastic bandwagon in large numbers. Corporate restaurant chains, hotels, and even theme parks got rid of plastic straws. They attempted to get rid of plastic cutlery. Plastic food containers were put out to pasture in favor of other materials.
None of this is a bad thing if companies do it voluntarily. It becomes a problem when companies and nonprofits begin virtue signaling that any appreciation of plastic whatsoever is a sign that you hate the planet. Here is the strange thing: all the efforts to ban plastic haven’t made any noticeable difference in the waste stream.
Getting Rid of It All
It seems in some circles like the goal is to get rid of all of it. In other words, some organizations want to completely eliminate all plastics from society. Not just plastic straws and plates, but every ounce of plastic there is. That being the case, will plastic bans ever go far enough for this group? Probably not.
Seraphim Plastics is a Tennessee company that recycles scrap plastic waste in seven states. They recycle things like plastic purge and scrap cutoffs. They recycle plastic pallets, totes, buckets, and more. If you saw just how much plastic they recycle every year, you would understand just how difficult it would be to get rid of all of it. Completely eliminating plastic just isn’t practical.
Even if we did succeed in a full and complete plastic ban, the anti-plastic crowd would simply move on to the next target. What would it be? There is no way to know for sure, but whatever they chose would be labeled the next big scourge destined to doom Mother Earth.
Certain types of plastics will no longer be allowed in Canada by the end of 2022. That country’s new ban probably won’t have a ton of impact on daily life. But if the bans keep up, they will eventually come back to bite us.