Single-use plastics |  The manufacturers are fighting in court against Ottawa   ‘s plan to ban the use

Single-use plastics | The manufacturers are fighting in court against Ottawa ‘s plan to ban the use

(Ottawa) More than 20 plastic product manufacturers are asking federal court to end Ottawa’s plan to ban several single-use items, including take-out straws, utensils and Styrofoam containers. However, Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is confident that this attempt will fail.

Updated August 10th

Split

Under the rules, which Mr Guilbeault finalized in June, the ban is to come into force gradually from next December, with the end of the manufacture, sale and import of take-out containers, mix, retail bags, cutlery and most straws.

Rings for six-can beverage or bottle sizes will be added to the manufacturing and import ban in June 2023 and to the sales ban in June 2024. The export of all these products is scheduled to end in December 2025.

In a petition filed July 15, a group of plastics manufacturers calling itself the Coalition for Responsible Plastics Use asked the federal court for a judicial review of the ban. He hopes to lift regulations implementing the ban and prevent the government from further regulating single-use plastics through Canada’s Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

This is the second lawsuit before the courts of the Coalition for the Responsible Use of Plastics.

The first lawsuit, filed in 2021, aims to overturn the government’s decision to designate certain plastic products as “toxic” under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act. This lawsuit is still in court.

Minister Guilbeault used this term in his regulations banning the sale, importation and production of six single-use plastic items, including pouches, coffee stirrers and clips for cans and bottles.

Poisonous

Toxic labeling, which came into effect in May 2021 following a scientific assessment of plastic waste, is necessary for the government to ban substances deemed harmful to human, animal or environmental health.

CEPA defines a substance as “toxic” if it has “an immediate or long-term adverse effect on the environment or its biodiversity”.

In the legal document it filed in the latter case, the coalition says the government has no real evidence that plastics are toxic.

“Indeed, there is no credible evidence that any of the single-use plastics are toxic,” the court document said.

“As a result, the ban cannot be justified as an exercise of Parliament’s criminal law powers. ยป

In the second lawsuit, filed in mid-July, the coalition is asking the federal court to overturn the ban and stop the government from using the Environmental Protection Act to regulate single-use plastics. Until the matter is decided, the manufacturers are asking the court to suspend the implementation of the federal ban.

Minister Guilbeault says he is confident the government’s rules will be validated by the courts. He adds that he would rather work with industry to improve the recycling of these items than fight a lawsuit.

In a written statement, Guilbeault said the plastic coalition can do whatever it wants in court but he believes it will lose.

“We will stand by the facts, which show very clearly that plastic pollution is damaging our environment and we must act,” he said.

“And we are confident that the courts will agree with our position,” added the minister.

The government’s scientific assessment, published in 2020, concluded that plastic is “ubiquitous” in the environment and estimates that around 29,000 tonnes of plastic waste entered the environment in 2016 alone.

“As plastics degrade very slowly and are persistent in the environment, the frequency of occurrence of plastic pollution in the environment is expected to increase,” the assessment concludes.

It states that macroplastics, which are pieces larger than five millimeters, can physically damage natural areas. Animals often eat or become entangled in plastic waste, resulting in injury and death.

Turtles, whales and seabirds are most affected. A baby turtle that died in Florida in 2019 had more than 100 pieces of plastic in its stomach. In 2018, a whale found dead in Indonesia had six kilograms of plastic in its stomach, including two sandals, plastic rope, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags and 115 plastic cups.

However, scientists disagree on whether microplastics, i.e. shredded pieces of plastic less than five millimeters in size, can kill humans or animals or cause developmental or reproductive harm.

“The current literature on the impact of microplastics on human health is limited, although no human health concerns have been identified at this time,” the assessment reads. This aspect needs further research.

A 2019 study by Deloitte found that less than 10% of the plastic waste produced by Canadians is recycled. As a result, 3.3 million tons of plastic were thrown away every year, almost half of which is plastic packaging.

Federal data shows that in 2019, 15.5 billion plastic bags, 4.5 billion plastic cutlery, 3 billion stirrers, 5.8 billion drinking straws, 183 million six-pack rings and 805 million take-away containers were sold in Canada.