Canada will ban single-use plastics from 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday, declaring it a "global challenge" to phase out the bottles, straws and plastic bags clogging the world's oceans.
"I am very pleased to announce that as early as 2021 Canada will ban harmful, single-use plastics from coast to coast," Trudeau said, arguing Canada has a unique chance to lead the fight against plastic pollution as the country with the world's longest coastline.
Trudeau said that in Canada less than 10 percent of plastics are currently recycled.
Each year a million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals worldwide suffer injury or death by becoming entangled in plastic or ingesting it through the food chain.
"You've all heard the stories and seen the photos. And to be honest as a dad it is tough trying to explain to my kids," Trudeau said.
"How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches across the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags? How do I tell them that against all odds, you will find plastic at the very deepest point of the Pacific Ocean."
The move follows the establishment of a Canada-led Ocean Plastics Charter announced by Trudeau at the G7 conference last year.
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the European Union joined the charter in an effort to reduce marine plastic litter.