Plastic makers want the Federal Court to end the ban on single-use plastic items

'By the end of 2023, these single-use plastics can't be sold anywhere in Canada,' said the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault.

Plastic makers want the Federal Court to end the ban on single-use plastic items
The Canadian Press / Jacques Boissinot
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Over two dozen plastic companies want the Federal Court to end the government’s plan to ban single-use plastic items. Unfortunately, CTV News reported that Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault isn’t so sure that this intervention will succeed: 

Under regulations Guilbeault finalized in June, the ban is set to be phased in starting this December with an end to the manufacture, sale and import of takeout containers, stir sticks, retail carry-out bags, cutlery and most straws. 

The six-pack rings used to package beverage cans and bottles together will be added to the ban for manufacturing and import in June 2023, and their sale banned in June 2024. Exports of all the products have to end in December 2025. 

The Responsible Plastic Use Coalition (RPUC) filed a report back in mid-July of this year, asking the Federal Court for a “judicial review of the ban,” said CTV. “It hopes to tear up the regulations enacting the ban and prevent the government from further regulating single-use plastics through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, or CEPA.” 

"We're going to stick to the facts, which show very clearly that plastic pollution is harming our environment and we need to act," Guilbeault said. "And we're confident the courts will agree with our position."

What is toxic is defined under Section 64 of CEPA:

A substance is toxic if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:

  • (a) have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity; 
  • (b) constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or 
  • (c) constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

Why ban plastic straws if we still drink out of a plastic cup?  At McDonald’s for example, they give out paper straws yet serve iced coffees in plastic cups. How does this make sense? Giving out a paper straw makes no sense if the product is being served in plastic, it defeats the purpose of ‘saving the environment.’ 

Yet, the government published a scientific assessment in 2020 saying that plastic is "ubiquitous in the environment, estimating about 29,000 tons of plastic waste ended up in the environment in 2016 alone."

Apparently, microplastics can cause physical injuries and even death to animals who get entangled.

"The current literature on the human health effects of microplastics is limited, although a concern for human health has not been identified at this time," the assessment said.

According to CTV, "Federal data show that in 2019, 15.5 billion plastic grocery bags, 4.5 billion pieces of plastic cutlery, three billion stir sticks, 5.8 billion straws, 183 million six-pack rings and 805 million takeout containers were sold in Canada."

Guilbeault said on Twitter that "by the end of 2023, these single-use plastics can't be sold anywhere in Canada."

Are there alternatives from banning plastic-use items altogether? If so, would the government ever change their mind about it?

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