Ottawa has announced its intention to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement today at a nature reserve in Mont St-Hilaire, south of Montreal.
The details of how such a ban would be implemented remain unknown, but the government will conduct research to determine the best course of action, which it says will be grounded in scientific evidence.
Trudeau says the situation of plastic overflowing in landfills and polluting oceans and waterways has reached a breaking point, and action is needed.
Less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled, and without any change in habits, Canadians will be throwing out $11 billion worth of plastic products by 2030.
The products could include such single-use items as drinking straws, water bottles, plastic bags, cutlery, stir sticks and fast food containers.
At the last G7 summit, Canada and four other leading economies signed a charter pledging that by 2040 all plastic produced in their countries would be reused, recycled or burned to produce energy.
The United States and Japan stayed out.
The federal government intends to work with provinces, territories and municipalities to set standards for companies that sell such products.
Similar announcements are being made today by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in Toronto and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in British Columbia.