A ban on single-use plastics passed first reading through an NDP Private Member’s Bill in the Ontario Legislature last week.
Ian Arthur, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, and NDP critic for the environment and sustainability, introduced Bill 82, Single-Use Plastics Ban Act, 2019, on March 18, as an attempt to amend the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.
As Arthur introduced his bill at Queen’s Park, he said the Act should be amended “to include a plan that identifies measurable targets and sets out timelines for the immediate reduction and eventual elimination of the distribution and supply of single-use plastics in Ontario and that requires the immediate elimination of certain single-use plastics.”
The bill calls for the immediate elimination of the following single-use plastic items: plastic straws and drink stirrers; expanded polystyrene foam food and beverage containers; plastic bags; items made from oxo-degradable or oxo-fragmentable plastics; disposable coffee cups; and plastic water bottles intended for single use.
Oxo-degradable plastics, as opposed to biodegradable plastics, are conventional plastic materials with artificial additives that do not biodegrade but merely fragment into small pieces.
Arthur’s Private Member’s Bill follows immediately on the heels of a provincial waste discussion paper published earlier this month by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The paper states that almost 10,000 tonnes of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes each year and more than 80% of litter collected during volunteer cleanups along the shorelines of the Great Lakes is plastic.
“We know that plastic waste can cause harm to fish and wildlife either through entanglement or consumption, as plastic can be mistaken for food,” the discussion paper states. “Much of that plastic waste is from single-use plastics that we use in our everyday lives. From take-out containers to shopping bags, to common grocery store items, single-use plastics have become prevalent in our workplaces, homes and stores.”
Following Arthur’s Private Member’s Bill, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association released a statement on single-use plastics. The association noted that single-use plastic “bans are not the answer but rather managing them at their end of life is.” The association goes on to say that scientific and economic studies demonstrate that in most cases plastic packaging, plastic shopping bags and some single-use plastics are a better environmental choice when managed properly.
Bill 82, Single-Use Plastics Ban Act, 2019, will next head to the committee level for study