Plastic forks, bags and straws banned in Canada today
Straws, bags, cutlery, stirrers and plastic take-out containers will be phased out in Canada starting December 20.
The federal government regulation prohibits the manufacture and import of plastic items for sale. It is phase 1 of a plan to eliminate plastic waste by 2030.
Under this schedule, companies are allowed to sell plastic items but must replace them with compostable or sustainable alternatives. The sale of these items will be banned on December 23, 2023.
Miriam Diamond, a professor of geosciences at the University of Toronto, told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday the law change will have “significant impacts” on the environment.
“Plastic waste, 47 percent of it, is mostly single-use plastic,” Diamond said. “So this ban aims to remove about 30,000 tons of plastic from the waste stream, of which about 29,000 tons end up in the environment.”
The ban is aimed at the food industry and the plastics industry, which Diamond says should foot the bill.
“We haven’t pushed the plastics industry or retailers to look into this,” Diamond said. “Rather, we forced the taxpayer to pay for it. … We’re paying for it by increasing landfill, we’re increasing the cost of disposing of all this plastic waste.”
Restaurants Canada, a foodservice industry advocacy group, wrote in a press release that customers want both sustainable alternatives and convenience.
“Disposables pose a unique challenge for foodservice operators as Canadians increasingly turn to delivery and takeout,” said the press release issued Dec. 15. “Off-premise dining still accounts for the majority of foodservice sales across the country and is growing.”
The organization encourages foodservice businesses to replace items with non-plastic alternatives such as wood, paper and molded pulp fibers.
Critics of the ban say the legislation will put additional strain on the economy amid fears of a 2023 recession.
“A big drain on our economy is our health,” Diamond said. “Plastic is getting into us, plastic is getting into animals… Our health is key to the economy, so I look forward to this ban helping to improve everyone’s health.”
The federal government originally wanted to start the ban by the end of 2021, but delayed the process. The regulations were published in June.
Diamond says that despite the strict legislation, the ban falls short.
“Our manufacturers will be allowed to export single-use plastics by 2025,” she said. “So what I’m looking for is accelerated action to phase out single-use plastics.”
Plastic packaging noted by Diamond is not part of the original frame, meaning items such as wrapping paper are not included.
According to Zero Waste Canada, an environmental organization, Canadians throw about 545,000 tons of wrapping paper or grocery bags into landfills each year during the holiday season.
Canada Plastics Pact, a non-profit environmental organization, estimated that Canada generated 1.89 million tonnes of plastic packaging (including gift wrap) in 2019, of which only 12 percent was recycled.
On June 20, 2023, a ban on the manufacture and import of ring bearers or six-pack rings for sale in Canada, used to carry aluminum cans and plastic bottles, begins. Their sale will be banned until June 20, 2024. Manufacture, import and sale for export will be banned from 12/20/2025.
The sale of flexible straws with packaged beverages is not affected by this ban. The ban on this article will take effect on June 20, 2024, and the ban on manufacture, import and sale for export will begin on December 20, 2025.