January 11, 2021

Federal Ban on Single-Use Plastics

On October 7, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a federal ban of single-use plastic products across Canada.  The federal government plans to finalize the new regulations by the end of 2021.  As indicated by the name, single-use plastics are plastic products that are designed to be used once and then disposed of.  According to the press release announcing the ban, in Canada, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year, close to 57 million straws are used daily, and single-use plastics make up most of the litter that is found in freshwater environments.[1]

The legislation will 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 this criteria, the Government proposes to ban the following items:

  • plastic checkout bags
  • straws
  • stir sticks
  • six-pack rings
  • cutlery
  • food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics

The Government also proposes to establish recycled content requirements in products and packaging.

The ban will be instituted by introducing an order to add “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”).  CEPA is the Government’s principal law for addressing pollution, and includes tools to address plastic pollution at different stages of the lifecycle of plastic manufactured items, such as manufacturing, imports, sale, use and disposal.

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased consumer demand for takeout and delivery and, as such, has made the need for single-use items more important than ever before, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has stated that the federal government will work with grocers and industry leaders to keep more plastic in the economy through recycling.  When asked how small businesses will handle the shift, Wilkinson stated that the government was careful to choose items with environmentally-friendly alternatives that already exist on the market.[2]  In response to the ban, Restaurants Canada has stated that it will continue to advocate for policies that avoid any undue burden on businesses that rely on single-use items to provide takeout and delivery services.[3]

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

Anna Thompson-Amadei, Sotos LLP

Anna is an associate with Sotos LLP in Toronto, Canada’s largest franchise law firm. She practices business law with a focus on franchising, licensing, and distribution. Please contact Anna at 416.572.7322 or athompson-amadei@sotosllp.com if you would like to discuss this or any other topic relating to the operation of your business.

Read part II and III of this article. 

[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2020/10/canada-one-step-closer-to-zero-plastic-waste-by-2030.html

[2] https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/single-use-plastics-1.5753327

[3] https://www.restaurantscanada.org/industry-news/advocacy-update-single-use-items/#:~:text=As%20part%20of%20a%20plan,Replaceable%20with%20readily%20available%20alternatives