Several major plastic manufacturers are taking the Trudeau government to court for implementing a ban on several single-use plastics.

The $29-billion industry is already suing the government for listing plastic as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The new lawsuit hopes to prevent the incoming ban and allow the continued sale of single-use plastic products.

The suit was filed by a coalition of plastic manufacturers, including DOW and NOVA Chemicals, and a few small packaging companies based in Ontario and in the United States.

In June, the Trudeau government unveiled details of its commitment to ban some single-use plastic items as part of its effort to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. 

The government will ban six common plastic products: single-use cutlery, stir sticks, straws, polystyrene food containers, six-pack rings and checkout bags.

“A person must not manufacture or import single-use plastic checkout bags, single-use plastic cutlery, single-use plastic foodservice ware or single-use plastic stir sticks.” staff wrote in a report ‘Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations.’ 

“Canada cannot meet its zero plastic waste goal without the participation of all Canadian households, businesses and institutions.” wrote staff. 

Enforcement of new regulations will include “site visits, review of records, reusable product testing (if applicable), and review of written transit documents,” said the report. “the following responses are available to deal with alleged violations: warnings, directions, tickets, ministerial orders, environmental protection compliance orders, injunctions, and prosecutions.”

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s office offered Canadians advice on how to comply with the government’s ban on single-use plastics, including  the use of alternatives such as wooden cutlery, paper straws and beverage containers shaped to be consumed immediately.

“Encouraging customers to bring their own containers or developing a deposit and refund system are options that would reduce the amount of single-use plastic food packaging and foodservice ware.” wrote staff in ‘Guidance for Selecting Alternatives to Single-use Plastics’.

“Another option is to engage with local recycling facilities to determine which plastics are recyclable,” said the guide. “Some alternatives can be plant-based or fibre-based.” wrote the report.

A 2011 research paper produced by the Northern Ireland Assembly found that it “takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag.”

“30,000 cotton bags can be packed into a 20-foot container, but the same container will accommodate 2.5 million plastic carrier-bags. Therefore, to transport the same number of jute or cotton bags 80x more ships would be required than for plastic bags, using 80x more fuel, using 80x more road space and emitting 80x more CO2.” wrote the paper.

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