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Ottawa seeks public comment on draft regulations banning single-use plastics

Wednesday, December 22, 2021 @ 9:16 AM | By Amanda Jerome

The federal government is “moving forward with a comprehensive plan to address plastic pollution in the long term that includes a ban on certain harmful single-use plastics in the short term.”

On Dec. 21, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, and the Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, announced that “draft regulations prohibiting certain single-use plastics have now been published for public comment.”

The consultation period will end March 5, 2022.

The draft regulations, a government release explained, “reflect input received through extensive consultations conducted by the Government of Canada since 2019, including from the tens of thousands of Canadians who expressed their support for banning certain single-use plastics.”

“It is estimated that the regulations would prevent more than 23,000 tonnes of plastic pollution from entering the environment over a ten-year period — the equivalent of one million garbage bags of litter — and their enactment represents both a necessary and a major step in the regulatory process that brings Canada one step closer to delivering on its commitment to banning certain harmful single-use plastics,” the release added, noting that it’s the government’s “intent to finalize these Regulations and bring the ban into force as quickly as possible and as early as late 2022 after reviewing and considering comments received.”

“We are taking action to get plastic pollution out of Canada’s communities and our waterways,” said Guilbeault in a statement.

“The proposed Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations are a big step forward in our goal to reduce plastic pollution and move to a circular economy for plastics. 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,” he added.

“Reducing plastic pollution creates a healthier living environment for all, because we know that plastics break down into tiny pieces that can get into water streams and be eaten by animals,” said Duclos in a statement.

“These regulations will contribute to our commitment to getting rid of certain single-use plastics,” he added.

According to the release, the regulations are based on “findings of the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution, which the Government finalized in October 2020 after examining hundreds of scientific studies and other sources of evidence, which confirmed that plastic pollution is everywhere in the environment and that it has harmful environmental impacts.”

The federal government will “soon publish draft guidance to help businesses adapt to the requirements of the proposed Regulations,” the release added.

The release also noted that the government will establish “regulated standards to increase the use of recycled content in certain plastic products.”

Canada is “committed to ensuring all plastic packaging in Canada contains at least 50 per cent recycled content by 2030; achieving an ambitious recycling target of 90 per cent — aligned with Quebec and the European Union — for plastic beverage containers; prohibiting misleading recycling labelling that is not supported by recycling facilities; and working with the provinces and territories to ensure that producers, not taxpayers, are responsible for the cost of managing their plastic waste,” the release added.

According to the release, municipalities such as Vancouver and Toronto are “implementing strategies to reduce single-use plastics, better prevent and manage litter, and improve the management of plastic waste.”

“Several provinces and territories are also taking action to improve the management of plastic waste. Together, federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste in November 2018, which lays out a vision for a circular economy for plastics, as well as a two-phase action plan that the Government of Canada will continue to implement jointly with partners,” the release explained.

The release emphasized that the nationwide strategy and action plan include “putting in place guidance to support consistent approaches to extended producer responsibility across Canada so that companies that manufacture, import, or sell plastic products and packaging are responsible for collecting and recycling them in a co-ordinated, fair manner.”

“The Government of Canada will continue to work with industry and Canadians to promote the adoption of sustainable alternatives, particularly reusable options, and to transition Canada away from a linear economy — one that takes, makes, then wastes — and to move toward a circular economy for plastics by eliminating unnecessary and hard-to-recycle single-use plastics and increasing rates of repair, remanufacture, refurbishment, reuse and recycling,” the release added.

According to the release, “up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily” in Canada and “single-use plastics make up most of plastic litter that is found in freshwater environments.”

“Over 35 countries around the world have already taken action by banning certain single-use plastics, including the U.K., France and Italy, and Canada’s approach is in line with other leading jurisdictions such as the EU,” the release added.

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