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Next stage of Canada’s single-use plastics ban faces delay

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The Canadian government says more time is needed to find acceptable alternatives to single-use plastics items that were set to be banned by year’s end.

The latest banned items were to include plastic grocery bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and food containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics. However, Canada has yet to finalize the regulations for this new phase of the federal plastics ban.

Environment and Climate Change Canada spokesperson Samantha Bayard told CTV News that the legislative delay occurred to “ensure ready alternatives were available as the Regulations came into force,” something that may occur in the weeks to come, she stated.

Additionally, the department, under the brand-new leadership of Minister Steven Guilbeault, noted that: “Additional engagement with stakeholders was undertaken to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the development and implementation of our approach to plastic pollution,” Bayard wrote.

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Some portions, however, of the initial ban have already been implemented, such as the ban on microbeads in toiletry products, when Canada began its push against plastics pollution in 2018. Leaders wanted to change the fact that just 9% of Canada’s plastic waste is recycled, while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, or the environment. The overall plan is to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.

Certain major retailers, such as Wal-Mart Canada, however, are still moving forward with the original timeline. The company will no longer be offering plastic bags at its more than 400 Canadian locations, a move Wal-Mart officials said will prevent some 750 million bags from entering circulation each year.

While some locations have already implemented the ban through a pilot that began in August, the company is aiming for Earth Day 2022 to complete the rollout at all locations. Customers will be encouraged to either not use bags, bring reusable ones, or purchase a reusable bag at the checkout.

There are also currently some 75 municipal or provincial bans on single-use plastics that have preempted the federal ban.

Notably, a lawsuit against Canada’s plastics ban may be in court early in 2022. NOVA Chemicals, Dow Chemical and Imperial Oil are suing the federal government in an effort to stop the federal action plan to reduce plastic pollution. Specifically, the companies have taken issue with the designation of all manufactured plastic items as “toxic” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

On certain online discussion forums, chatter has also grown over the shift to adequate replacements for items such as plastic forks and straws. Many people have been complaining about wood forks and cardboard straws, saying they lack durability and sometimes negatively impact taste. Some say they’ve even stopped buying their favourite drinks at established coffee shops.

According to a recent study conducted by Deloitte and Cheminfo Services Inc., the main generating sectors for plastic waste in Canada are packaging (47% of total plastic waste), automotive (9%), textiles (7%), and electrical and electronic equipment (7%).

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