February 7, 2022

Single-Use Plastics

The Government of Canada’s draft regulations prohibiting the use of certain single-use plastics has been published for public comment in the Canada Gazette.  The plan was first announced on October 7, 2020 and would ban single-use plastic items for which there is evidence that the items are found in the environment, as well as items that have readily available alternatives.  Based on these criteria, the following items would be banned: plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

The government has asked stakeholders, partners, and Canadians to participate in the consultation period, which will run to March 5, 2022.  The plastics ban is slated to be implemented by the end of next year after the government has completed its review and consideration of comments from these consultations.[1]

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault has said “Smart, clear and collaborative regulations will help drive innovation across the country as reusable and easier-to-recycle items take their place in our economy.” In November 2021, the government announced plans to invest $3.5 million in Montreal-based clean-tech company Polystyvert.[2]

While the ban of single-use plastic manufacturing and import is expected to come into force one year after the proposed regulations are registered, the manufacture and import of single-use plastics for the purposes of subsequent export outside of Canada is not subject to the proposed regulations.  The prohibition on the sale of single-use plastics is expected to come into force two years after the proposed regulations are registered.[3]

The federal government, as well as provincial and municipal governments, are likely to continue to expand and develop future regulations that will result in more plastic products and packaging being banned, or at least restricted.  It is imperative that businesses continue to evolve accordingly and consider alternatives to single-use plastics being produced, sold, or used in their operations.  While these regulations are almost 2 years away from being implemented, businesses can start taking steps to prepare. Namely:

  • Consider current product offerings and whether or not they will still be sustainable as a result of the single-use plastics ban.
  • Begin researching, testing, and comparing alternative products.
  • Contact existing suppliers to determine if they have suitable product offering capabilities and, if not, begin researching alternative suppliers.

Further, the government has developed a guidance document to help businesses and organizations adapt to the proposed requirements.  The document outlines important considerations for businesses navigating alternative products or systems from those single-use plastics that the new legislation will ban.  It also provides a “management framework for single-use plastics”, which outlines the three steps that the government follows in assessing the environmental impact of a single-use plastic item. [4]  Business owners should familiarize themselves with this guide in order to align their business decisions with industry best practices.

At Sotos LLP, our team of industry experts has been helping business owners in the development of best practices that respond to and address issues arising from the ever-evolving legal landscape.

 


[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2021/12/government-of-canada-moving-forward-with-banning-harmful-single-use-plastics0.html

[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/11/government-of-canada-supports-leading-edge-company-specializing-in-polystyrene-recycling-that-helps-protect-the-environment.html

[3] https://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2021/2021-12-25/html/reg2-eng.html

[4] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/managing-reducing-waste/consultations/proposed-single-use-plastics-prohibition-regulations-consultation-document.html