No one wants to see plastic litter in their local park or hiking trail, or on the shoreline where their kids play. That’s why the Government of Canada has moved forward a comprehensive plan to ban harmful single-use plastics and keep them out of the environment. After working with Canadians and stakeholders alike to design the ban, the Government is taking the final step to deliver on this commitment.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, and the Minister of Health, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, recently published final regulations to prohibit single-use plastics including:
- checkout bags;
- foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics that are hard to recycle;
- ring carriers;
- stir sticks; and
- straws (with some exceptions).
The ban on the manufacture and import of these harmful single-use plastics, barring a few targeted exceptions to recognize specific cases, will come into effect in December 2022. To provide businesses in Canada with enough time to transition and to deplete their existing stocks, the sale of these items will be prohibited as of December 2023. The Government will also prohibit the export of plastics in the six categories by the end of 2025, making Canada the first among peer jurisdictions to do so internationally.
Over the next decade, this world-leading ban on harmful single-use plastics will result in the estimated elimination of over 1.3 million tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution, which is equivalent to over a million garbage bags full of litter.
Canada remains steadfast in its commitments to demonstrate leadership and take strong action to reduce plastic pollution, protect biodiversity, and promote a healthy environment here at home and around the world.
This measure is an important contribution to Canada’s ongoing comprehensive agenda to address plastic waste and pollution. This measure puts Canada among world leaders in fighting plastic pollution and will help to meet the commitments of the Ocean Plastics Charter and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We promised Canadians we would deliver a ban on single-use plastics. Today, that’s exactly what we’ve done. By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics. After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags. With these new regulations, we’re taking a historic step forward in reducing plastic pollution, and keeping our communities and the places we love clean.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“We are focused on protecting the health of those who live in Canada, while improving our environment. We know that plastic pollution can be found in outdoor air, food and drinking water, so by addressing this, we will improve health outcomes for all Canadians. These new regulations mark a turning point for Canada. We are taking strong action to protect the environment, creating cleaner and healthier communities across the country.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health
In Canada, up to 15 billion plastic checkout bags are used every year and approximately 16 million straws are used daily. Single-use plastics like these make up most of the plastic litter found on shorelines across Canada.
Sales of single-use flexible plastic straws will be restricted as of December 2023. Exceptions to the ban on straws allow single-use plastic flexible straws to remain available for people in Canada who require them for medical or accessibility reasons. This includes for use at home, in social settings, or in healthcare settings, such as hospitals and long‑term care facilities. All other types of single-use plastic straws will be prohibited.
Prohibitions on the manufacture and import of ring carriers and flexible straws packaged with beverage containers (e.g., juice boxes) will come into force in June 2023 and the prohibition on the sale of these items will come into force in June 2024. These transition timelines recognize the complexity associated with retooling manufacturing lines for these products.
The Government has also published two guidance documents: one to help businesses adjust to the regulations, and another to help businesses and people in Canada choose more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics.
Published on October 7, 2020, the report entitled Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution helped to inform Canada’s policy development and actions, and guide research on plastic pollution in Canada.
A draft of the regulations was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 70-day comment period on December 25, 2021. The feedback received was taken into consideration in the development of the final regulations announced today.
Moving toward a more circular economy for plastics could reduce carbon emissions by 1.8 megatonnes annually, generate billions of dollars in revenue, and create approximately 42,000 jobs by 2030.
In early summer, the Government will begin to consult on approaches to a federal public plastic registry and the development of labelling rules that would prevent the use of the chasing arrows symbol on plastic items unless at least 80 percent of recycling facilities in Canada accept them and they have reliable end markets. This paper will also present a proposal for comment on the labelling of plastic items regarding their ability to be composted.