Canada will ban single use plastics by 2021
August 2019—Prime Minister Trudeau said it’s hard to explain to his kids why he’s allowed plastics to build up in nature. So Canad has committed to eliminating single use plastics by 2021.
Trudeau is planning to hold “the Coca-Colas and Unilevers of the world” responsible for the entire life cycle of all the products they produce, he said, rather than making it more challenging for much smaller businesses.
The language here is interesting, saying large corporations would be responsible for the entire life cycle of the products. That’s a signal that they’re planning to institute Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws similar to those in Europe. In effect, these laws mean if you make something, you have to take it back at the end of its life. One of the first such laws was WEEE, Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment Directive, which required starting in 2003 that all products in the EU with an electrical cord be taken back for repair or recycling: microwaves, washers and dryers, cellphones, etc. And the manufacturers had to pay for it.
The United States, where we have any such requirements (like e-waste), has preferred weaker Extended Product Responsibility. That little word change spreads the responsibility to parties across the supply chain. That’s why YOU, the customer, probably have to pay to recycle your computer or tires. You could argue that if the company paid, they’d have to pass on the cost anyway, but it weakens their financial incentive to develop a robust system and design their products for disassembly and reuse.