Canada plans to ban some single-use plastics like straws, bags and cutlery by early 2021.
The proposal aims to reduce non-recyclable waste and protect the world’s seas and oceans.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed the move less than five months before a national election which is likely to be dominated by climate change and pollution issues.
He said: ‘To be honest, as a dad, it’s tough trying to explain this to my kids.
‘How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags?
‘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.’
Canada’s move follows one by the European Parliament, which voted earlier this year to ban several single-use plastic products across the EU, including Malta.
Canada has delayed implementation until 2021 to allow time for a ‘science-based’ decision on exactly which plastics ‘are harmful to the environment and human health’, according to a government statement.
It will also give businesses time to adjust.
Why is the ban being brought in?
Around 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year, potentially contributing to over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans.
It is estimated that 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year in England alone.
Around ten per cent of cotton buds are flushed down toilets, often ending up in the sea.
In 2018 Theresa May urged Commonwealth leaders gathered in London to introduce a ban.
The first Commonwealth country to ban plastic bags was Bangladesh, which enacted the rule in 2002.
Scotland has seen an 80% reduction in carrier bag use since a 5p charge was introduced last year.
Plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be banned in England from April 2020.
Supermarkets in Australia last year banned single-use plastic bags nationwide.
Kenya has the strictest plastic bag ban of all. The punishment for breaking the law is up to four years in jail.