Kootenay-Columbia MP Leading Studies Into Potential Single-Use Plastic Ban

(Supplied by Pixabay)

While Wayne Stetski supports banning single-use plastics across the country, he says a lot of work needs to be done before it potentially goes into effect in 2021.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced this week that the federal government is "moving forward on a science-based approach to establishing which harmful single-use plastics we will be eliminating as of 2021".

As the Vice Chair of the country's Environment and Sustainable Development Committee, Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski is helping to lead the effort to look into which products would be banned and other actions to reduce the amount of plastic waste across the country.

"That includes things like bags, plastic utensils, straws for most sort of fast food places - there are alternatives you can use there. It needs to happen, but it also needs to respect the fact that there are some plastics that are hard to replace."

Perhaps the most difficult items to remove revolve around the healthcare sector, such as IV tubes, hoses, or straws for patients that have a tough time getting enough suction.

On the business side of things, Stetski says much of this will involve "going back to where we were" by having stores use paper bags that can easily be recycled or offering the boxes that items are shipped in.

Many grocery stores already sell reusable bags, while some food chains use paper or metal straws.

But, since new plastic is often cheaper than recycled plastics, Stetski wants to take action to ensure more of it can be reused.

"One of the things we need to look at is, should we be banning landfills from accepting plastics? Should every plastic by a certain date have a minimum recycled content in it to increase the value of plastics?"

Another thing the MP wants to focus on in his study is around trade.

He says Canada should "never again" export plastic waste to other countries to dispose of it, as recently, the Philippines sent back large quantities of Canadian garbage.

Perhaps more importantly, he believes, is what happens when a company in another country looks to ship goods to Canada that are made with single-use plastics.

"[We need to make sure] that we don't require Canadian producers to have a higher standard than what we're requiring for imports, so whatever the standard becomes in Canada, we certainly need to make sure that any plastics coming in from other countries like China meet the standards that Canadian producers have to meet."

Stetski hopes to release his report sometime next week.

Audio: Wayne Stetski, MP, Kootenay-Columbia (on plastic pollution)

Audio: Wayne Stetski, MP, Kootenay-Columbia (on plastic alternatives)

More from East Kootenay News