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plastics and politics - where our governments stand on single use plastics

photo by Jonathan Chang

Author: Emma Hill 

Feeling like plastics and politics have been in the news lately? bare market blogger Emma shares a quick recap on where the governments of Toronto, Ontario, and Canada stand on single use plastics. 

There’s been a lot of talk about plastics in the policy section recently. From the city of Toronto releasing results from their public consultations and an announcement from Justin Trudeau on some new targets, there’s a lot of information to digest. I’ve got a quick breakdown for you on what’s happening municipally, provincially, and federally when it comes to single use plastics. 

is Toronto looking at banning single use plastics?

Maybe some of them. In the fall of 2018, the city of Toronto had a series of engagement sessions to discuss how to reduce single use plastics, phase 1 of their campaign. These sessions were held with public and stakeholder groups, with the city getting 20,512 people to participate. The results of the consultations and plans for phase 2 were released in the report to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on May 23, 2019. 

The upcoming phase 2 will report more on specific policies for reducing single-use items in Toronto. To read more about what these might be check out the Toronto Environmental Alliance’s update on the Toronto Consultation on Single-Use Plastics

where does Ontario stand on the topic?

The provincial government released their environmental plan in November 2018 and more recently a discussion paper on reducing litter and waste. The province was accepting comments until late April 2019 from the public and stakeholders for input on the discussion paper and asking if a ban on single-use plastics would be effective in reducing plastic waste. No further details or policies have been reported to date. 

photo by Sophia Marston

didn’t I hear that Canada has pledged to ban single use plastics? 

That’s right – on June 11, 2019 the federal government announced that they would ban plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks (to name a few) as early as 2021. Before a finalized list of what will be banned can be made the federal government has said that they will hold consultations with businesses and other levels of government.  

so what does this all mean? 

All three governments have plastics on the mind and have started addressing plastic pollution as a serious issue that needs attention - Hooray! That being said, firm commitments or detailed action plans have not yet been confirmed municipally, provincially, or federally. Over the next year hopefully we see more details and confirmed plans emerge from all three levels of government on how to tackle palstic waste. 


Emma graduated with a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and now works in the charitable environmental sector. She has made environmental and climate change action a priority in her life and strongly believes that a circular economy, collaboration and education are key tools to achieving sustainability.

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