The government finally posted draft regulations to ban six single-use plastics over the holidays. Unfortunately there’s a catch. As written, the regulations wouldn’t rid Canada of the harmful products until sometime in 2024 at the earliest, an absurd timeline that undermines the government’s own promises to reign in plastic pollution.

99% of flexible plastics in Canada end up in landfills, incinerators, or the environment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed to ban problematic plastic packaging and products, including bags, straws, cutlery and takeout containers, “as of 2021.” He missed that deadline but must modify the draft regulations to ensure these products are no longer made or sold in Canada before the end of this year.

What’s more, the draft regulations only address import and sale in Canada, ignoring the fact that plastic pollution is a global problem. Canadian companies would still be able to make the damaging products for export, where they would pollute local environments and harm wildlife elsewhere – and even find their way back onto Canadian shores. The final regulations must not allow this loophole.

The public can comment on the draft regulations until March 5, 2022. The final regulations will be posted (hopefully very soon) after that. We’ll be combing through the details to give comprehensive feedback and also pointers for supporters to submit their own response shortly. 

In addition to calling for a much quicker implementation and an export ban, we will be looking for a way to ban additional harmful items, such as hot and cold drink cups and lids, which are a significant source of litter and pollution.

The government has committed to ridding Canada of plastic waste by 2030. Half measures implemented at a snail’s place will not get us there. The bans are just the start of an ambitious plan that includes requirements for new products to be made from recycled content, national targets for collection of beverage containers and support for reuse of packaging and containers. Plastic pollution is a crisis, in Canada and around the world, and we need the federal government to acknowledge the urgency and get a move on.