What Canada’s Single Use Plastic Ban Means & Why It Matters
4 minutes to read
Canada is finally taking steps towards banning single use plastics.
Plastic products like single use checkout bags, forks and knives, straws and stir sticks, and containers are some of the items on the chopping block.
Great news for those who recognize the plastic epidemic, bad news for corporations who profit from filling our world with unnecessary waste.
So let’s dive into the details and see what it all really means.
- An overview of the plastic ban
- Why the plastic ban matters
- What banning plastic can accomplish
- Potential downsides and solutions
An overview of the plastic ban
The new regulations, which fall under the title of single use Plastics Prohibition Regulations, plan to address the need for stricter plastic regulations by prohibiting a variety of the most common single use plastic items.
Here’s a list of what’s being banned:
- Checkout bags
- Foodservice ware like containers and plates
- Cutlery like forks, knives, spoons, and chopsticks
- Straws and stir sticks
- Ring carriers for drinks
The bans themselves are going to follow a timeline, which started in December of 2022 and should be completed by late 2025.
Basically, the ban on manufacturing and importing most of these items for sale in Canada is already in effect. Exporting these items, however, will be phased out a bit slower. If you want to see a more complete list of all the confusing details, check out the overview of regulations.
Why the plastic ban matters
Plastic waste is everywhere nowadays. It’s simply not possible to ignore it any longer if you care even the slightest bit about the environment.
It litters our beaches, pollutes our rivers and oceans, and microplastics have been found within human placentas and our blood.
And that’s quite an oversimplification of the issue; the truth is we don’t fully understand yet how widespread plastic is, or what effects it may have on our health or on the environment in the future.
So regulations like this, which cut off the manufacturing and sale of plastic at its source, are some of the most important steps when it comes to solving the plastic crisis.
Wealthy nations like Canada need to be the ones leading the charge when it comes to phasing out plastic, as policy changes like these can have a cascading effect around the globe.
What banning plastic can accomplish
Banning single use plastics does more than restrict the flow of more waste entering the environment.
That’s arguably the most important thing – reducing how much plastic pollution there is – but there are a few other benefits as well.
Regulating single use plastic shines a light on plastic waste, which both encourages sustainable innovation and brings the growing issue into focus for a lot of people who may not have given it much thought before.
Yeah, it may be annoying and inconvenient at first for those who love using plastic products. But it also means that people will seek out eco-friendly options, and may even be motivated to start learning how to live more sustainably.
For those of us who already seek out plastic-free products, things are only going to get easier as more brands switch to less toxic materials.
Potential downsides and solutions
As with any new policy, there are going to be outspoken critics. Of course, a lot of the criticisms you’ll hear are purely misinformation – but there are some legitimate downsides to consider.
One of the gray areas of these new policies is the banning of non-conventional plastics touted as being compostable or biodegradable. The bioplastics industry is still in its infancy, and many who oppose these bans think that prohibiting them will stifle the development of new bioplastics.
There may be some truth to that, as the new regulations do prohibit the use of bioplastics for things like checkout bags, cutlery, and straws. The problem is, bioplastics generally don’t biodegrade unless it’s done in highly specialized industrial composting facilities anyway – and there’s very little coordination between the production and collection of these materials.
Either way, the Canadian government states in the new regulations that they’re willing to work with the bioplastics industry in regard to the blanket ban, and they can always make amendments in the future.
Another complaint is that the new policies don’t consider the needs of those with disabilities or who need specialized care. For example, plastic straws that bend are a lifesaver for people without the dexterity needed to drink out of cups or cans – and banning them would affect them much more than those who can.
But if you dig into the details of the single use plastic ban, you can find specific exceptions for those with medical needs. It clearly states that medical facilities can still offer things like plastic flexible straws to patients or residents. And just like the bioplastics regulations, there will most likely be future adjustments.
Banning single use plastics is one of the first steps that need to be taken if we want to solve the issue of plastic pollution.
As a wealthy nation, Canada is responsible for encouraging sustainable action within the international community, and these regulations are a fantastic start.
For those of us who despise plastic waste, seeing governments take responsibility only motivates us further!
Looking for something plastic-free? Here are some easy ones to try: