July 27, 2022

Single-Use Plastics Ban – Update III

Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Steven Guilbeault, has announced the publication of the final regulations to prohibit the manufacture, import, sale, and export of six single-use plastic items (the “Regulations”). The government has stated that it estimates this ban will result in the elimination of over 1.3 million tonnes of plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution over the next decade.[1]

The six items being banned by the Regulations include: (1) checkout bags, (2) cutlery, (3) foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics that are hard to recycle, (4) ring carriers, (5) stir sticks, and (6) straws (with some exceptions, see below).

Business owners should be aware of the following key dates:

  • The prohibition on the manufacture and import of checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, straws (not packaged with a beverage container), and stir sticks will come into effect as of December 20, 2022.
  • The prohibition on the sale of checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, straws (not packaged with a beverage container), and stir sticks will be effective as of December 20, 2023. This will grant businesses 1 year to deplete existing stock.
  • A ban on ring carrier manufacturing and import will be effective as of June 20, 2023.
  • A ban on the sale of ring carriers and straws packaged with beverage containers (e.g. juice boxes) will come into effect as of June 20, 2024.
  • A ban on the export of all six items by December 20, 2025. Note that banning exports was added to the final regulation, as it was not included in the government’s original proposal.

The Regulations include a number of exceptions to the ban, which exceptions include:

  • Single-use straws for accessibility: The Regulations permit hospitals, medical facilities and long-term care facilities to sell single-use plastic flexible straws to patients or residents.
  • Waste and bags for containing waste: The Regulations do not apply to plastic manufactured items that are waste, nor to items that are intended to hold waste (and do not meet the definition of single-use checkout bags).
  • Products in transit: The Regulations do not apply to plastic manufactured items that are transiting through Canada. Whether a single-use plastic product is considered “in transit” is determined based on the final shipping destination of the product.

The announcement concludes almost 2 years of consultations with provincial and municipal governments, industry and individual Canadians. The public consultation process included a Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution, a discussion paper on an integrated management approach to plastic products, and a draft regulation.

During the press conference announcing the publication of the Regulations, Minister Guilbeault stated that Canada is not opposed to restricting additional items in the future. He also acknowledged that the plastic pollution problem cannot be solved through bans alone and that other actions are necessary to reach the government’s goal of zero plastic waste by 2030.

The Regulations are part of a larger movement, as outlined in Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Agenda, which includes developing targets, standards and further regulations aimed at eliminating plastic pollution in Canada in the years to come.[2]  Businesses should continue to evolve to meet new requirements and find alternatives to single-use plastics being produced, sold or used in their operations, including researching, testing and comparing alternative products and contacting existing suppliers to determine if they have suitable product offering capabilities.   Lastly, businesses should refer to the government’s guidance document, which is intended to help businesses and organizations adapt to the proposed requirements and outlines important considerations for businesses navigating alternative products or systems. [3]  Business owners should familiarize themselves with this guide to ensure that their business decisions are aligned with the new Regulations and industry best practices.

At Sotos LLP, our team of industry experts has provided strategic advice to business owners in the development of best practices that respond to and address issues arising from the ever-evolving legal landscape for over 40 years.

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 I and II of this article. 

[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2022/06/government-of-canada-delivers-on-commitment-to-ban-harmful-single-use-plastics.html
[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/managing-reducing-waste/reduce-plastic-waste/canada-action.html
[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/managing-reducing-waste/consultations/proposed-single-use-plastics-prohibition-regulations-consultation-document.html