Using the current initiative passed in the European Union as inspiration, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the nation is moving to ban single-use plastics within the next two years. This includes items like plastic water bottles, bags, straws, and other items that official governmental bodies deem to be wasteful, according to CNN. Like policymakers in the European Union, Canadian lawmakers cite the pollution ending up in rivers, lakes, surrounding oceans, as well as the strain on landfills as the main reasons why they're interested in nixing plastic.
While Canadian officials haven't fully shared details of the upcoming ban, the EU's plan to target single-use plastics also includes disposable utensils; but European nations are hoping to influence manufacturers to create sustainable alternatives for all single-use products rather than remove them from the market altogether. Another aspect of the EU proposal includes new resources to encourage more recycling of common plastic items, with a goal of having 90 percent of all water bottles recycled by 2025. According to the BBC, less than 10 percent of the plastic being used in Canada is actually recycled.
In the United States, plastic waste is being addressed at the state and local levels. Both Hawaii and Maine recently passed new legislation to prevent businesses from using styrofoam, CNN reports, and New York lawmakers have recently banned single-use plastic bags. Large manufacturers and corporations are also leading the change to recycle more and use less plastic; Nestlé and Poland Spring just announced a new goal of using recycled plastic to make water bottles, and retailers like Trader Joe's are zeroing in on reducing landfill waste.
While the EU estimates that banning single-use plastic could cost multiple industries upwards of $780 million a year, per CNN's estimates, the change could bring about more sustainable materials for future use. Recent research suggests that plastic pollution could be worse than scientists ever estimated—and while CNN reports that while plastic production is 20 times higher in Europe than it was during the 1960s, industry research shows that just nine percent of plastics are recycled on an average basis.