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More Red Tape: Canada Moves Toward Single-Use Plastics Ban!

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Canada’s federal government recently took the steps necessary to impose significant limits on the manufacture, import and sale of certain single-use plastic goods. While the scope of goods covered by the regulations is relatively limited, importers should be aware of them – and be alerted to the fact that regulation may not stop with these specific goods!


Last year, Canada designated “plastic manufactured items” as toxic substances under Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”).

Section 93 of CEPA gives the federal government broad authority to regulate Schedule 1 substances, including deciding where the listed substances can be released, how much of the substance can be manufactured, processed, used, offered for sale or sold in Canada and – importantly – how much of the substance can be imported into Canada and under what conditions. This has now opened a pandora’s box of potential government restrictions on goods that the Liberal/NDP alliance thinks should not be available to ordinary Canadians.

(If you are now thinking about the terrible experience of using “paper straws”, you are heading in the right direction!)

The Liberals’ first step in this direction is the Single-use Plastics Prohibitions Regulations (“SPPR”), discussed below.

What Plastic Products Will be Restricted?

Currently, the SPPR intends to ban the manufacture, import and sale of:

  • Plastic Straws (with some limited exceptions);
  • Plastic Ring Carriers
  • Checkout bags
  • Plastic Knives, Forks & Spoons
  • Plastic Foodservice Ware
  • Plastic Stir Sticks

While there are some expected exceptions to these restrictions, including for goods in transit and for goods that are manufactured, imported or sold for the purpose of export, these restrictions alone will be a shock to many businesses and importers.

Effective Dates?

Most of the restrictions referenced above are set to come into force on a rolling basis, with bans on manufacture and import taking effect on December 20, 2022, followed by bans on sale in Canada on December 20, 2023. Plastic ring carriers will have an additional six-month period, with manufacture and import bans taking effect on June 20, 2023 and a ban on sales starting June 20, 2024.

Will I Be Affected?

While the goods currently slated for restriction under the SPPR are relatively limited, we believe that the effect will be broadly felt by most Canadians. The combined effect of broad regulatory authority under CEPA and a loosely-worded prescribed substance (i.e., “plastic manufactured items”) means that importers will need to start thinking about these rules sooner than later, with more expected restrictions to come.

Importers should review their products and seek legal advice if there is a risk that the SPPR may apply – particularly because it may be possible (in some situations) to minimize this risk with careful planning!

Meanwhile back at the home office, Jack and I are PRAYING that these restrictions are not extended to golf balls – because if you have seen us off of the tee, golf balls are usually single-use items!

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