It’s time to celebrate! On Monday, June 20, 2022, the federal government announced a national ban on six single-use plastic (SUP) items. This journey began in 2018 when the federal government agreed to a Zero Plastic Waste strategy which included a ban on SUP. After years of scientific assessment and consultation, it’s official – we will see the phasing out of several SUP, including checkout bags, six-pack ring carriers, straws, foodservice ware (ie. takeout containers, bowls, plates), stir sticks, and cutlery.
This announcement is a big victory and a first step towards ending the plastic disaster and protecting our oceans. Since 2019, Oceana Canada has been advocating alongside passionate Canadians to reduce plastic pollution. We’ve met with decision makers, published reports on the state of plastic, and put forward science-based recommendations to achieve zero plastic waste. Over 160 000 of you signed our petition telling the government that Canada deserves a strong ban on SUP.
And it worked! From the first draft of the ban of SUP released in 2021, our voices have directly influenced the final version of the ban. We made the following recommendations to government, making it clear that these changes were pivotal to see real reductions in SUP and protect the oceans. Here is how the ban was strengthened:
Closed technical loopholes in the ban: The draft ban on SUP included many technical loopholes that would allow the plastic industry to replace flimsy SUP items, like bags and cutlery with more durable, heavier SUP alternatives that would still ultimately end up in landfill and in the environment. The final version of the ban on SUP does not contain technical loopholes and has made SUP items like checkout bags and plastic cutlery a thing of the past.
Bringing the ban into force ASAP: The draft ban on SUP would have allowed the manufacturing of banned SUP items in Canada until 2023, as well as the sale of banned SUP items until 2024. The final version of the ban stops the manufacture of banned SUP by the end of 2022, with businesses gradually phasing out old stock as they transition away from SUP. Advancing the timeline of the ban by a year means avoiding billions of SUP items that would have ended up in landfill or the environment.
Ban on exporting SUP: The draft ban on SUP contained an exemption for the export of SUP items banned in Canada. This would have allowed plastic items that Canada has deemed toxic to be sold to foreign markets, contributing to global plastic pollution. The final version of the ban on SUP removed the exemption for export of banned SUP items. This makes Canada the second country ever to make it illegal to export plastic items that are banned here.
What does this new, national ban mean for the health of the oceans? It means thirty-two billion fewer plastic items going to market a year. Annually, Canada produces nearly 17 billion plastic checkout bags, 5 billion pieces of plastic cutlery and 200 million plastic, six-pack ring carriers – but that will soon be history. This is a huge victory for our oceans and means less whales washing ashore with stomachs full of plastic, less seabirds entangled in trash and less fish full of microplastics.
The ban on SUP is a first step toward ending the plastic disaster, but the work is not done yet. Oceana Canada continues to advocate for other laws that will bring Canada even closer to achieving zero plastic waste. We are calling for impactful changes like banning all unnecessary SUP and investing in refill and reuses systems. We are calling for real solutions to ending plastic waste and banning false solutions like burning plastic or chemical recycling.
We look forward to carrying on this work and hope that you will join us as we continue to fight to #EndThePlasticDisaster.