As of December 20, 2022, Canada has implemented a ban on the manufacture and import-for-sale of certain single-use plastics. The federal government aims to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, citing the detrimental impact of plastics on the environment through pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The ban applies to a range of products, including takeout containers, cutlery, stir sticks, straws, and more. Checkout bags that are made entirely or in part from plastic are also subject to the ban, as are fabric bags that cannot meet a stress test. This test requires that bags cannot break or tear when carrying 10 kilograms over 53 meters 100 times, or once washed.
Cutlery includes single-use plastic knives, forks, spoons, sporks, and chopsticks that contain either polystyrene or polyethylene, or that change their physical properties when run through a household dishwasher 100 times.
Takeout containers, including clamshell containers, lidded containers, boxes, cups, plates, and bowls made entirely or in part from plastic are also subject to the ban if they contain expanded or extruded polystyrene foam, polyvinyl chloride, carbon black or black plastic food containers, or oxo-degradable plastic.
All types of plastic stir sticks designed to mix beverages or prevent spillage are banned under the current regulations. Straight plastic drinking straws that contain polystyrene or polyethylene, or which cannot be run through a dishwasher 100 times are also subject to the ban.
However, single-use plastic flexible straws not packaged with a beverage container are excluded under certain conditions, such as to accommodate people with disabilities. Retail stores may sell a package of 20 or more single-use plastic flexible straws if a customer asks, and the package is not displayed publicly.
The phase-out of single-use plastics will be gradual, with industries and businesses depleting their stock and turning to sustainable alternatives. A prohibition on the manufacture, import, and sale for export of single-use plastics is due to take effect on December 20, 2025.
Additionally, a prohibition on the manufacture and import for sale in Canada of ring carriers or six-pack rings will begin on June 20, 2023, with their sale banned by June 20, 2024.
The ban on single-use plastics is a positive step towards reducing plastic waste and protecting the environment. Consumers are encouraged to do their part by choosing sustainable alternatives, such as reusable bags, cutlery, and containers.