Proposed single-use plastics prohibition regulations

On December 25, 2021, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) released proposed Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations to ban six categories of single-use plastic (SUPs) items: checkout bags, cutlery, stir sticks, straws, ring carriers, and food service ware made from or containing problematic plastics. The proposed regulations are in line with the Government of Canada’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.

The release of the regulations initiated a 70-day consultation period ending on March 5, 2022. RCC will be working closely with members to prepare a submission to government.

SUPs were categorized as problematic using the following criteria:
– Environmentally problematic: i.e., prevalent in natural/urban environments, per municipal/litter audit data
– Value recovery problematic: i.e., hampers recycling/wastewater systems, low current and expected future recycling rates

SUP checkout bags, which are plastic manufactured items formed in the shape of a bag that are designed to carry purchased goods from a business, typically given to a customer at the retail point of sale

SUP cutlery, which encompasses plastic manufactured items formed in the shape of a knife, fork, spoon, spork, or chopstick

SUP ring carriers, which are plastic manufactured items formed in the shape of deformable container surrounding bands, and that are designed to be applied to beverage containers and selectively severed to produce packages of two or more beverage containers

SUP stir sticks, which are plastic manufactured items designed to stir or mix drinks, or to stop a drink from spilling out of a lid

SUP straws, which are plastic manufactured items formed in the shape of a drinking straw, including SUP flexible straws that have a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend and maintain its position at various angles

  • Some exceptions would apply – please see tab below.

SUP foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics, which encompasses plastic manufactured items that:
a) are formed in the shape of a clamshell container, lidded container, box, cup, plate or bowl;
b) are designed for serving or transporting food or beverage that is ready to be consumed without any further preparation; and
c) made from:

  • polystyrene foam, including expanded and extruded
  • polyvinyl chloride
  • the additive “carbon black,” which is an additive used as a black colour pigment for plastic manufactured items that is produced through the partial or incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, or
  • oxo degradable plastics, which are plastic materials that include additives which, through oxidation, lead to the fragmentation of the plastic material into micro fragments or to chemical decomposition

The Government is aiming to finalize the regulations and bring the ban into force as early as late 2022.

1 year after proposed regulations are registered:
• Prohibitions on the sale of straws would come into force
• Prohibitions on the manufacture and import of all six single-use items would come into force
• Manufacture, import, and sale for the purposes of export would not be subject to the

2 years after the proposed regulations are registered:
• Prohibition on the sale of all other single-use items would come into force

See table 3 – Performance criteria for determining whether a plastic product is single use

Checkout bag– will break or tear if used to carry 10 kg over 53m 100 times;
– will break or tear if washed in a washing machine in a wash cycle recommended by the manufacturer for washing cotton or linen; or
– made from plastic film
Cutlery or straw– changes shape when submerged in water maintained at a temperature between 82°C and 86°C for 15 minutes,

“Tests to determine whether a product meets the criteria for single use must be conducted by a laboratory accredited under ISO/IE C 17025 entitled General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, by an accrediting body that is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition Arrangement. Alternatively, certification can be provided by a lab accredited under the Quebec Environmental Quality Act.”

“The proposed Regulations would prohibit the manufacture, import, and sale of SUP straws, including straws packaged with other items such as drink boxes, as well as SUP flexible straws in any commercial, industrial, or institutional setting, except for the following activities:

  • The manufacture and import of flexible plastic straws that are sold or offered for sale in packages of multiple straws, where a “flexible” plastic straw has a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend and maintain its position at various angles;
  • The manufacture and import of any kind of plastic straw intended for export;
  • The sale of flexible plastic straws to hospitals, medical facilities, long term care facilities, and other care institutions, including the offering of SUP flexible straws to patients or residents of any of these institutions; and
  • The sale of packages of 20 or more flexible plastic straws in retail stores, on the condition that the straws are not kept on public display (though businesses may advertise that straws are available for purchase) and are provided only if requested by the customer (who can be any individual). This allows continued access for persons with certain disabilities that still require plastic straws.”

Please see the Prohibition and exceptions section of the regulations for more information.

In addition to the proposed regulations, ECCC released draft Guidance to Selecting Alternatives.