Canadian Plastics

Judge hears legal challenge to Canada’s single-use plastics ban

Canadian Plastics   

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The regulations face their first legal test as the plastics lobby and the federal government head to court.

Canada’s new single-use plastic regulations are facing their first legal challenge beginning on March 7, as part of a lawsuit being brought against the federal government by plastic producers.

A federal court judge is hearing arguments from lawyers on all sides from March 7 to March 9 in Toronto.

A group of plastics companies are suing to overturn the designation of plastic-manufactured items as “toxic” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), including the legal basis of the ban on single-use plastics introduced in 2022.

The plastics companies bringing the case include Dow Chemical, Imperial Oil, and Nova Chemicals Corp., as well as the American Chemistry Council. Several parties have also successfully applied to be interveners in the case, including the Saskatchewan and Alberta governments and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. The intervention mechanism allows non-parties that prove they have a stake in the case to participate in court.


On the other side, several environmental groups, including Environmental Defence and Oceana, are scheduled to appear to ask the court to uphold the government’s plastic regulations.

The Liberal government relied on a scientific assessment of plastic pollution published in 2020 to justify the “toxic” designation and the single-use plastics ban, which affects checkout bags, straws, stir sticks and cutlery. Some of these prohibitions have already taken effect and some won’t happen until 2025.

The companies that launched the challenge say – along with the plastics industry at large – that the government’s plan is flawed and lacks the scientific evidence to be justified.

The judge is not expected to deliver a ruling for months.


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