The Responsible Plastics Use Coalition (RPUC) is taking the Trudeau government to court for designating all plastic manufactured items as toxic. 

RPUC, a federally incorporated corporation that works towards effective regulatory responses to plastic pollution in Canada, is comprised of a number of plastics manufacturers including DOW and NOVA Chemicals who are based in Ontario and the United States.

“Members of RPUC have a shared belief that Canadians deserve a responsible and effective policy approach to tackling the problem of plastic waste in the environment.” said the Managing Director of the RPUC Alexandre Meterissian in a statement to True North.

“RPUC is currently challenging the authorizing regulation under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that declares all plastic manufactured items are toxic and permits the federal government to enact the regulations, in this instance, to ban certain single-use plastic.” says Meterissian.

On May 12 2021, the Canadian government added all “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 on the List of Toxic Substances of the Canadian Environment Protection Act (CEPA), a decision which RPUC believes is “not supported by science and will have far-reaching and unintended consequences.”

“The decision to move forward with the bans before a court decision on whether the federal government has authority to enact such bans is irresponsible and represents a significant overstep by the government,” wrote Meterissian. 

The group of plastic manufacturers is urging the government to implement “science-based” solutions to address plastic waste, such as expanding collection infrastructure and further development of recycling technologies.  

In June 2021, RPUC filed their first Notice of Application for judicial review in the Federal Court of Canada, arguing that the Order is unconstitutional, unreasonable and outside the enabling authority granted to the government by CEPA. 

“If the Order is upheld then what will the government add to the List of Toxic Substances next if a proper scientific determination is not first required?” writes RPUC. 

“The assertion is not based on fact, data, measurement, or scientific study, is based on estimates, and even these are outdated and do not originate in Canada.”

In June 2022, RPUC filed another suit against the Trudeau government’s latest ban targeting single-use plastics, arguing again that the ban is unconstitutional and that the government has no evidence that single-use plastics are toxic.

“In order for Parliament to regulate a substance, it must be shown to be ‘toxic’ as defined by section 64 of CEPA.” writes the Notice. “The substance must post a threat or danger, in the same way that Parliament regulates other threats to the public such as narcotics, and firearms.”

“The Ministers have not established that the single-use plastics are ‘toxic’. In fact, there is no credible evidence that any single-use plastics are ‘toxic.’’

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.

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