Federal government moves to ban plastic straws, bags by end of 2022: Guilbeault

December 21, 2021
'Radical' or pragmatist? Either way, Steven Guilbeault has his work cut out
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It’s the end of days for plastic grocery bags and Styrofoam takeout containers in Canada, but the products can still be manufactured and exported.

The federal government is publishing the draft regulations that will ban the manufacture, import and sale of six single use plastic items that are difficult to recycle and have more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Plastic stir sticks, cutlery, six-pack rings, bags and Styrofoam takeout containers will be eliminated entirely.

Some plastic straws will be allowed in order to accommodate people with disabilities and others who need them for medical reasons.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said more than 18 months ago that some harmful single-use plastics would be eliminated by this year but the pandemic delayed an assessment on which ones to target.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says the process for the draft and final regulations should allow the ban to take effect by the end of next year.

“Smart, clear and collaborative regulations will help drive innovation across the country as reusable and easier-to-recycle items take their place in our economy,” Guilbeault said in a news release.

Ban does not affect exports

Environmental Defence, a Canadian advocacy group, welcomes the ban generally but has concerns about the export of plastics. 

“The government must ban their manufacture for export or Canadian-made single-use plastic products will continue to pollute other countries,” Karen Wirsig, Environmental Defence’s plastic programs manager, said in a statement.

A federal government assessment on plastic pollution in 2020 reported that 77 per cent of the 4,800 kilotonnes of plastic polymers produced in Canada in 2016 were exported.

Environmental Defence also wants to see other products added to the list. 

“The government also needs to expand the list of banned single-use plastics, including hot and cold drink cups and lids, which are consistently found littered in the environment,” the statement reads.

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