QUÉBEC CITY – 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, today 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.
Government of Canada’s comprehensive approach to zero plastic waste
Scientific evidence confirms that plastic pollution is pervasive in the environment, and that macroplastic pollution is harmful to wildlife and their habitat. Single-use plastics, such as checkout bags, and food and beverage service items, make up the bulk of macroplastics found on shorelines in Canada and internationally.
The Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations were made under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), following the addition of “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 in May 2021. The decision to add “plastic manufactured items” to CEPA was grounded in the findings of the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution.
These Regulations reflect extensive consultations conducted by the Government of Canada since 2018 with provincial, territorial, and municipal jurisdictions; industry; civil society groups; and individuals, as shown in this timeline. The Government received comments from partners and stakeholders as well as from thousands of people who expressed their support for banning certain single-use plastics.
In recognition of the fact that medical patients and persons with certain disabilities may require single-use flexible plastic straws to eat, drink, or take medication, the Regulations have exceptions that ensure single-use flexible plastic straws remain available for people who require them. This includes for medical or accessibility reasons, whether for use at home, in social settings, or in care institutions. These exemptions include provisions that allow stores to sell packages of twenty or more flexible plastic single-use straws as long as they are kept out of view and sold upon request. This means persons who require single-use flexible plastic straws can bring them to restaurants and other social settings. All other types of single-use plastic straws will be prohibited.
Other key elements of Canada’s approach toward reducing plastic pollution include establishing performance standards to increase the use of recycled content in certain plastic products and ensuring that manufacturers, importers, and sellers of plastic products and packaging are responsible for collecting and recycling them. The Government of Canada will continue to work collaboratively with its partners to advance its zero plastic waste agenda at home and abroad, including by working with provinces and territories through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to implement the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste, and Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the associated Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste.
Internationally, building on Canada’s 2018 G7 Presidency and its role as a champion of the Ocean Plastics Charter, the Government of Canada continues to advocate for the transition to a circular economy for plastics. As part of its commitment to the Ocean Plastics Charter, Canada has invested $100 million to help developing countries address plastic pollution. Furthermore, at a recent United Nations Environment Assembly meeting, Canada, along with 175 other nations, endorsed a historical resolution to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.
“Scientific evidence confirms that plastic pollution is pervasive in the environment, and that single-use plastics, such as checkout bags, make up most of the plastic litter found on shorelines across Canada. The new Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations, along with Canada’s global commitments under the Ocean Plastics Charter, demonstrate Canada’s continued commitment to reducing plastic pollution, and keeping our shorelines and oceans clean and pollution-free.”
– Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament, West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country, British Columbia
“Canadian families know how plastics litter our beaches, parks, playgrounds, and waterways. Plastics spoil the enjoyment of our beautiful natural environment and harm our wildlife. We’re getting rid of some of the most common single-use plastic products that pollute our communities and putting Canada on the path to a plastics economy that recycles and reuses.”
– The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development
“Plastic pollution has emerged as a key environmental issue globally, and there is increasing concern about its impact on the environment, economies, and human health. The publication of the new Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations marks a major milestone for Canada in its commitment to reduce plastic pollution. In doing so, Canada has joined the over fifty countries around the world that have taken action by banning certain single-use plastics in order to keep plastics in the economy and out of our environment.”
– Julie Dabrusin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“People in Canada have expressed their concerns about plastic littering our beaches, parks, streets, shorelines, and other places of value. Through the new Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations, Canada has shown its steadfast commitment and leadership by taking strong action to reduce plastic pollution, protect biodiversity, and promote a healthy environment here at home and around the world.”
– Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“I’m proud that Atlantic Canada led the way on banning single-use plastic bags in our country, and grateful for the example and efforts of sustainability-minded entrepreneurs like Will and Sarah at Luminate Co, who have put waste reduction at the core of their business models. Today, the Government of Canada is stepping up to prevent even more harmful single‑use plastic items from entering our environment through the new Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations. These regulations are part of a comprehensive approach aimed at transitioning Canada away from a linear economy that disposes of plastic as waste toward a circular economy that reduces plastic pollution and drives innovation.”
– Lena Metlege Diab, Member of Parliament, Halifax West, Nova Scotia
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