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Canada’s single-use plastics ban overturned

Canadian Court Overturns Regulation on Single-Use Plastics

In a significant legal decision, the Federal Court of Canada has overturned a regulation that classified certain plastic products as toxic.

This ruling, made on November 16, 2023, poses a challenge to the Canadian government’s efforts to ban single-use plastic items, such as bags, straws, and forks. The overturned regulation had led to a ban on manufacturing and importing these “harmful” single-use plastics, which came into effect in December of the previous year​​​​.

The court’s decision centered around the categorization of plastic manufactured items as toxic under Canada’s environmental protection laws. The Federal Court determined that this classification was too broad and that the government had overstepped its constitutional bounds. As a result, the cabinet order supporting the single-use plastics ban was quashed​​​​.

The ruling against the ban, described as unconstitutional, represents a setback for the Liberal government’s environmental initiatives. The government had previously implemented these measures as part of its broader strategy to combat plastic pollution and promote environmental sustainability​​.

This development reflects the ongoing legal and policy challenges faced in balancing environmental conservation efforts with industry and regulatory concerns. The Canadian government’s next steps in response to this court decision will be closely watched by environmental groups, the plastics industry, and the public at large.

The conversation around reducing plastic pollution in Canada gained significant traction when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to reduce the country’s plastic footprint in 2019. This commitment was part of a broader global initiative to address the environmental impacts of plastic waste, especially in oceans and waterways.

On April 23, 2021, The federal government took a concrete step by publishing an Order Adding a Toxic Substance to Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. This order included “plastic manufactured items” in the list of toxic substances under the Act, setting the legal groundwork for future bans on single-use plastics. Then, on December 20, 20022, The ban on the manufacturing and importation of single-use plastic began, targeting items such as checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware made from problematic plastics, stir sticks, and straws.



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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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