Plastic manufacturers file lawsuit to block planned federal ban on single-use plastics
Canadian PlasticsCanadian Plastics Sustainability editor pick
The Responsible Plastic Use Coalition, which includes more than 30 resin makers and processors, is asking a federal court to quash the ban.
A coalition of more than two dozen North American plastics companies has sued to block the Canadian federal government’s plan to ban several single-use plastic items including straws, cutlery, and takeout containers.
It’s the second lawsuit filed in the court by the Responsible Plastic Use Coalition (RPUC); the first suit, filed in June 2021, seeks to overturn the government’s decision to designate plastics as “toxic” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). CEPA defines a substance as “toxic” if it can have “immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity.” The toxic designation, which came in May 2021 after a scientific assessment of plastic waste, is needed for the government to ban substances believed to be harmful to human, animal or environmental health. This first lawsuit remains before the courts.
RPUC was formed in 2021 in response to the “toxic” designation, and currently includes more than 30 processors and resin makers, including Berry Global Group Inc., CCC Plastics, Dow Inc., Ingenia Polymers, IPL, LyondellBasell Industries, and Nova Chemicals Corp.
The single-use plastics bans was announced on June 20 of this year, and prohibits plastics including checkout bags; cutlery; foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics that are considered hard to recycle; ring carriers; stir sticks; and straws (with some exceptions). The ban is set to be phased in starting this December. The six-pack rings used to package beverage cans and bottles together will be added to the ban for manufacturing and import in June 2023, and their sale banned in June 2024. Exports of all the products have to end in December 2025.
The RPUC’s second lawsuit – filed on July 15 – asks the court to quash the ban and prohibit the government from using the act to regulate single-use plastics and prevent the ban from being implemented in the meantime. The second lawsuit also says the government doesn’t have real evidence that plastics are toxic. “The [ban] was made despite a paucity of facts and evidentiary support about the nature and extent of the environmental contamination and harm arising from the SUPs [single-use plastics],” RPUC said. “Accordingly, the ban cannot be justified as an exercise of the criminal law power conferred upon Parliament.”
In a written response to the second lawsuit, Steven Guilbeault, the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, said that he expects the government to prevail in the lawsuit. “While a handful of plastic companies try to stop our ban on harmful single-use plastics, we are going to keep fighting for the clean, healthy environment Canadians deserve,” Guilbeault said. “We’re going to stick to the facts, which show very clearly that plastic pollution is harming our environment and we need to act.” Guilbeault also said the government would rather work with the industry to improve recycling than battle the sector in court.