Canada to ban harmful single-use plastics and hold companies responsible for plastic waste

As part of a series of measures to reduce Canada’s plastic waste, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that Canada will:

  • ban harmful single-use plastics (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks)
  • ensure that companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging are responsible for managing the collection and recycling of their plastic waste

The Government says that these measures will be grounded in scientific evidence and will align, where appropriate, with similar actions being taken in the European Union and other countries.

In March this year, the European Union voted to ban 10 single-use plastics that most often end up in the ocean and New York State announced plans to ban most types of single-use plastic bags for retail sales (after similar bans in California and Hawaii).

The World Economic Forum estimates that there are currently 50 million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans.

The measures are also intended to support the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s development of an action plan to implement the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.

Ban on single-use plastics

Canada will ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and take other steps to reduce plastic waste, where supported by scientific evidence and when warranted.

The ban would reduce pollution from single-use plastic products and packaging – such as shopping bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks – that science indicates are harmful to the environment and human health.

The specific products and measures included in the ban will be determined following a State of the Science assessment on plastic pollution in the environment, which is already underway and will include a peer review, public consultations, and socio-economic considerations.

Additional regulatory actions could include requiring products to contain a set amount of recycled content, or be capable of being recycled or repaired.

Producer Responsibility

The Government of Canada will work with provinces and territories, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, to support the development of consistent Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs across the country.

Under an EPR program, companies making products are responsible for the end-of-life management of their products and packaging.

The Government will also work in collaboration with provinces, territories and industry to set targets for plastics collection, recycling, and recycled content requirements.

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Manning Environmental Law is a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Our practice is focussed on environmental law, energy law and aboriginal law. 

Paul Manning is a certified specialist in environmental law. He has been named as one of the World’s Leading Environmental Lawyers and one of the World’s Leading Climate Change Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal.

As always, these posts  are provided only as a general guide and are not legal advice. If you do have any issue that requires legal advice please get in touch. Our contact details can be found here

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