On Tuesday, Liberal Environment Minister and former Greenpeace radical Steven Guilbeault announced that the federal government would ban single-use plastics in Canada, but the ban didn’t include single-use COVID masks.
The new regulations would apply to several products like checkout bags, cutlery, foodware, ring carriers, stir sticks, and straws.
“We promised Canadians we would deliver a ban on single-use plastics. Today, that’s exactly what we’ve done. By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics,” said Guilbeault.
“After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags. With these new regulations, we’re taking a historic step forward in reducing plastic pollution, and keeping our communities and the places we love clean.”
The ban is expected to begin in December 2022. The Liberals claim that it will eliminate up to 1.3 million in plastic waste.
Unsurprisingly one of the largest causes of plastic pollution during the Coronavirus pandemic, face masks, was absent from the list.
The Liberal government, in fact, has no intention to ban plastic masks despite a horde of unrecyclable masks worn by Canadians ending up in landfills.
Northern Ontario has had to bear the brunt of plastic waste due to mask use.
“I feel we’ve moved backwards a little bit, and it’s become a little more acceptable to litter,” said Clean North member Abby Obenchain.
“I don’t know what to do with this mask, so I’m just going to drop it on the ground.”
Moreover, the microplastics found in face masks have been shown to be not only bad for the environment but bad for your health.
According to the systematic review of over 57 studies published in the National Center of Biotechnology in 2021, t “Face masks release microplastics, which are directly inhaled during use or transported through the environment. The latter can adsorb chemical contaminants and harbor pathogenic microbiota, and once consumed by organisms, they can translocate to multiple organs upon intake, potentially causing detrimental and cytotoxic effects.
Besides reusable masks, there are currently no recyclable masks on the market. According to McMaster University Engineering Professor Rakeshu Sahu the problem will likely remain well into the future.
“I see this problem is going to persist for at least a few years in the future and for that we need to have a solution,” says Sahu.