Is Banning of Single-Use Plastics a Good Idea?

The Feds have released draft regulations to ban six kinds of “harmful” single-use plastic items in Canada.

The Feds are banning single-use plastics

According to Canadian Plastic Magazine digital edition of 22 December 2021, the Federal Government has released draft regulations to ban six kinds of single-use plastics of what they ca “harmful” single-use plastic items in Canada: straws and stir sticks, six-pack rings, grocery bags, cutlery, and difficult-to-recycle takeout containers.

Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced the draft regulations in a Dec. 21 joint statement.

According to the statement, the regulations would prevent an estimate of more than 23,000 tonnes of plastic pollution from entering the environment over a ten-year period, which is the equivalent of one million garbage bags of litter.

The statement said the new rules could come into effect sometime at the end of 2022. There may also be a transition period to allow restaurants and other businesses to get used to the new rules, which could push the date back even further. A final decision on when the rules will come into force will be made after the government has considered the comments received during the consultation period, which is open until March 5, 2022. “The Government of Canada will soon publish draft guidance to help businesses adapt to the requirements of the proposed regulations,” the statement said.

“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,” Duclos said in the statement.

Recycling Plastics

Another “key element of the plan” will be the establishment of regulated standards to increase the use of recycled content in certain plastic products. “The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring all plastic packaging in Canada contains at least 50 percent 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 statement continued.

In order to formulate the regulations brought forth in the new ban, the federal government says it relied on scientific research it compiled under the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution from autumn of 2020.

Critics

What do critics say? Well, the ban is being criticized by many in the plastics sector, including the Ottawa-based Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), which represents plastics manufacturers. “We believe that banning of some single-use plastic items might make governments and consumers feel good in the short term, but do not solve the overall problem long-term,” CIAC said in a Dec. 22 statement. “We are disappointed that safe inert plastic materials that play such important roles in Canadians’ lives continue to be labelled as toxic substances (under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act) or are being banned when innovative technologies like advanced recycling are available to manage their end of life.”

What do you say?

As a professional in the plastics industry, what’s your opinion about the proposed ban? Is it useful or just another unwarranted bureaucratic regulation? As I look at its expected effect: to prevent 23,000 tonnes of plastic pollution from entering the environment over a ten-year period, I tell myself but this is just 2,300 tonnes per year! So, if I relate it to the total tonnage of plastics produced in Canada in 2019, i.e. 368 million metric tons, the banning of single-use plastics regulation would affect only 0.00625 % of that total. Too much ado about nothing? You decide!


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