Canada will ban 'harmful single-use plastics' as early as 2021

Canada will ban "harmful single-use plastics" as early as 2021, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

On Tuesday (NZ Time), Trudeau announced his Government would seek to enact the ban and will "make companies accountable for their plastic waste" and "support job-creating innovation and promote affordable, safe alternatives".

"Plastic pollution is a problem we can't afford to ignore," he said in a tweet.

The specific items to be banned will be decided upon evidence and science-based reviews, but he said that the Government was considering items like water bottles, bags and straws.

Trudeau said "as a dad" it was difficult to explain to his children why whales were washing up on beaches with plastic bags in their stomachs.

"As parents we're at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn't littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles. That's a problem, one that we have to do something about."

Less than 10 percent of plastic in Canada is recycled, reports The Guardian.

It comes as the European Parliament voted to ban a variety of single-use plastics from 2021 in a bid to stop waste polluting oceans. Last year, the World Economic Forum said roughly eight million tons of plastic reaches the ocean - the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association has previously pushed back on a ban, saying that single-use plastics can be a "better environmental choice when managed properly".

In a 2018 Danish study, cited by Vice in April, researchers found that reusable cotton bags are only a solution to the plastic problem is they are reused consistently for 11.5 years or around 7100 times.

Last year, the New Zealand Government confirmed retailers will be banned from selling or giving away single-use plastic bags from July 1.

It will apply to all new plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic up to 70 microns in thickness. This includes light-weight supermarket bags, heavier boutique-style shopping bags and the 'emergency' bags currently offered by some supermarkets as an alternative to a free single-use bag.

The ban will also include bags fitting this description made of degradable plastic, such as biodegradable, compostable and oxy-degradable bags, regardless of whether the plastic material is sourced from fossil-fuel, synthetic compounds or from biological sources such as plants.