Nova Chemicals Corp. supports efforts to encourage more recycling of plastics, including the plan announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, said John Thayer, senior vice-president of polyethylene for the company which operates large petrochemical complexes in Alberta and Ontario.
Less than 10 per cent of plastics used in Canada are now recycled, he said.
"You've all heard the stories and seen the photos".
The prime minister also said it's "tough trying to explain" to his children why "dead whales [are] washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags", Reuters reported.
Trudeau said plastics have been found in the deepest points of the Pacific Ocean, at a depth of 36,000 feet, and are showing up in people. There may be some exceptions to bans if certain uses of products are critical or irreplaceable, he said.
It's impossible to know the environmental and economic impacts of a single-use plastics ban when you haven't decided what will be banned, when it will be banned, what will replace it and what it will cost.
He said companies that produce plastics or use them in packaging will be responsible for the collection and recycling of the waste.
While Trudeau has declared it a top priority, a recent parliamentary report concluded Canada is doing too little to combat climate change, even as government scientists warned the country was warming at twice the global rate.
Despite the goodwill from countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, serious questions remain over how the mass of plastic used daily around the world will be recycled properly.
The Liberals plan to use the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), the core federal environmental law regulating designated toxic substances, to ban such plastics.
An official at Environment Canada, speaking anonymously because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said Canada's focus will be on banning things that are the most harmful, or the hardest to recycle.
In Australia, Hobart has become the first capital city set to ban single-use plastics, including takeaway food containers and straws. Oxo-degradeable plastics including plastic grocery bags, which break down into tiny pieces with exposure to air but never fully disappear, are also to be banned.
The federal government would work with a council of Canadian environment ministers to move forward on a national action plan to reduce such waste.
"Copol International is a forward-thinking business that's developing biodegradable food packaging", Trudeau said. Without steps to crack down on the problem, that number could increase to roughly $8 billion a year by 2030. May had urged other Commonwealth countries to follow suit, but at the time Trudeau was reluctant to make that promise.