Canada's ban on single use plastic bags and items is just a couple of months away. Both the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Health Minister agreed that by December 2022 Canada will ban all of the following items;
- checkout bags;
- foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics that are hard to recycle;
- ring carriers;
- stir sticks; and
- straws (with some exceptions).
We can already see the transition to paper straws and the push for reusable bags. Even compostable take-home food containers are emerging. Made with regenerative fibers and foods.
A trip to Walmart the other day revealed how ill prepared Canadians are for this new transition. Finding a shopping cart to take into the store was harder than finding a parking spot. Those who didn't have their own bags, simply took the carts home. A cheaper alternative than investing in the woven bags Walmart was selling for $1.
Walmart has already adopted the 'say no to plastic' mandate and has stopped ordering plastic bags entirely. A move well ahead of the deadline and the holiday rush. Kudos to Walmart. Despite losing sales, they are willing to send home a message of urgency.
This long-awaited Federal mandate will require a transition period for many people. Moving away from a disposable culture will take some time, and sacrifices will be made by many, including the big box stores like Walmart, who will lose millions of dollars in sales if customers don't have bags to put their impulse purchases in. Consumers will be inconvenienced until they adapt and are conditioned to leave their homes with a few extra bags in their purses, pockets, or cars.
The producers of plastic bags will not be as affected as you might think. The alternative to plastic is the woven bag, which will be in high demand in the coming years.
Often made with mixed fabrics, the reusable woven bags are intended to be used over and over again until they show signs of wear and tear. We can only hope that the price tag on woven bags will make Canadians value them enough to not discard them frequently.
This is a great step forward, and a great way to get people reconsidering how they make a purchase and recognizing that the onus is now on the consumer as the ban goes into effect.
Note: The ban begins December 2022. The sale of all single use plastics is prohibited by December 2023. Over the next decade this will equate to an estimated elimination of 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.