Canada Plastic Ban Overturned by Federal Court

Canada plastic ban overturned: how does this impact your business?

In a recent ruling, the Federal Court overturned the previously initiated plastic ban, sending shockwaves through industries and government bodies alike. The decision has stirred up a nationwide debate, with implications for public policy, environmental conservation, and business operations. 

We understand that this news may cause concern for restaurants throughout Canada. So, let’s dive into how businesses might be impacted and how we, as a collective community, can continue marching toward a greener future despite that the Canada plastic ban was overturned. Navigating this new landscape may seem daunting, but together, we can turn it into an opportunity for innovation and sustainability.

In this article:

Updated: December 14th, 2023

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Federal Government Has Overturned the Canada Plastic Ban

In a surprising turn of events, the Federal Court has overturned Canada’s single-use plastic ban. This ban was initially instituted as part of a broader strategy to minimize our environmental footprint and ensure the preservation of our natural ecosystems.

Now, however, the court has labelled the way this policy defines toxic plastics as “unreasonable and unconstitutional.”

When the clock struck midday on November 16th, a consequential judgement from the Federal court called for a sharp shift in Canada’s plastic usage policy. The plastic ban states that all plastics are toxic under the Canada Environmental Protection Act, which the Court viewed as a shaky grounds for the prohibitions.

All policies have a defined scope – a boundary that outlines what they include and exclude. In this case, the court believed the scope of plastics was too vast to be classified under the Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances. 

The list is an important document that identifies materials officially recognized as harmful or ‘toxic’ under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Yet, the court maintained that not all items recognized under the ban could be categorically listed as toxic.

This critical observation prompted the court to deem that the government had been operating beyond its authorized boundaries. In other words, the court saw the initial ban as overreaching, stepping beyond the reasonable and justifiable limits of environmental policy.

The discussions surrounding this judgement have been intense and wide-ranging. On one hand, there’s the question of how public policy is shaped and enacted. What does it mean when a ban that was seen as a step forward for environmental protection is suddenly reversed? 

And on the other hand, there’s a tangible impact on industry regulation. Businesses across Canada are now faced with the challenge of readjusting their operations and practices in light of this decision.

Will the Canada plastic ban still come into effect?

As of November 20th, the Federal Government has announced that they are planning to appeal the Federal Court ruling. At this time, there are no further updates on the ruling.

Does this mean that Canada is reversing the single-use plastic ban until the government appeals? At this time, despite the overturn, the prohibitions will still come into effect on December 20th.

What about provincial plastic bans?

Despite the fact that the Canada plastic ban was overturned, each province has the liberty to implement policies that align with its environmental goals. This autonomy allows for swift and effective decision-making on a local level.

Notably, British Columbia is one province that took significant strides in this area, even before the recent federal court ruling.

The BC single-use plastic ban has been a forerunner in advocating for environmental protection, enacted to reduce the excess use of plastics and mitigate the impact on the province’s beautiful landscapes and fragile ecosystems. The ban’s primary targets are single-use products such as shopping bags, straws, takeout containers, and takeout accessories. 

While the federal plastic ban has been overturned, provincial policies, like BC’s ban, are still in effect. Meaning, even with this landmark ruling, efforts to reduce single-use plastic consumption continue on a provincial level. These localized efforts are vital in driving the nationwide agenda for a cleaner and healthier environment.

If your business is located in BC, the Canada plastic ban being overturned will not affect you. At this time, restaurants will still need to look for sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic items.

Learn More: The BC Single-Use Plastic Ban Breakdown

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How does the plastic ban reversal affect Canadian businesses?

In the wake of the federal court’s decision that overturned the Canada plastic ban, the Canadian business landscape finds itself in a state of heightened uncertainty.

Many companies across the country had hurriedly shifted their strategy and operations in preparation for the imminent ban. When the federal plastic ban was first announced, companies, especially those in the hospitality and restaurant sectors, had to embark on a search for viable alternatives to single-use plastics. 

Pivoting from familiar suppliers, businesses were sorting through new catalogs, attempting to secure eco-friendly alternatives that met their needs, and adhered to the upcoming ban. There was a collective scrambling toward a new marketplace, one centered around sustainable alternatives.

Time, money, and resources were channeled into adjusting supply chains, rethinking product packaging, and educating consumers. The goal was to meet the compliance deadline and to ensure a seamless transition by the end of the year.

Fast forward to the present, with the Canada plastic ban being overturned, these endeavors may seem for naught. Now, businesses are faced with a new wave of stress – what products should be used moving forward? Should they continue with their newly adopted eco-friendly alternatives or return to their earlier practices using single-use plastics?

The recent judgement has further complicated the decision-making process for businesses. While they no longer face impending federal regulations around single-use plastics, they must consider provincial bans, consumer expectations, corporate sustainability goals, and the shifting landscape of environmental regulations.

Despite the chaos, what remains clear is that businesses are waking up to the fact that the issue of single-use plastic is a complex web of environmental, economic, and social concerns. It’s not merely about adhering to policies, but also about considering broader, long-term perspectives on sustainability and the environment.

Learn More: How the BC plastic ban impacts businesses

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What does this mean for Canada’s climate change goals?

When we talk about climate change, we often zero in on emissions and pollution, however, plastic pollution is equally concerning. 

Single-use plastics, due to their non-biodegradable nature, pose a considerable threat to our environment. They contaminate our waterways, damage delicate ecosystems and, when incinerated, release harmful gases contributing to climate change.

In this context, the federal plastic ban was a step toward Canada’s broader climate change goals.

The decision that overturned the Canada plastic ban, therefore, raises questions about the country’s ongoing commitment to preventing plastic pollution. One of the primary queries is how Canada plans to mitigate the environmental effects of continued single-use plastic use on a federal level.

However, it’s important to remember that Canada’s climate change goals extend far beyond single-use plastics. The nation has robust strategies targeting various environmental concerns, including energy efficiency, renewable energy application, green transportation, and more.

Moreover, despite the federal ban’s overturning, numerous businesses continue to shift toward eco-friendly alternatives, propelled by societal awareness and consumer demand. Provincial regulations, like those in place in British Columbia, also contribute to the collective effort towards reducing plastic pollution.

We can hope, going forward, that provinces take a page from BC’s book, and implement their own single-use plastic bans to help mitigate plastic pollution.

Learn More: The Dangers of Microplastics

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Should your business still make the switch away from plastic?

Even though the Canada plastic ban was overturned, it remains critical for businesses to explore sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics. The reversal of the ban does not negate the environmental challenge plastics pose. Businesses should strive to act responsibly, aligning their strategies and operations with broader sustainability goals.

Enter Origin Sustainables. We specialize in providing environmentally conscious alternatives that not only meet your business needs but also help navigate the changing landscape of plastic use and legislation. Origin Sustainables is committed to supplying substitutes that are compliant with even the strictest regulations, including individual provincial bans.

Our products start with nature and return to nature, without leaving a lasting footprint. For instance, our wooden cutlery and paper takeout containers are made from renewable resources and are fully compostable. They offer the convenience of their plastic counterparts, but once discarded, they break down naturally without any residual harm to the environment.

By choosing Origin Sustainables, businesses are not merely purchasing a product; they are adopting a sustainable philosophy. When the wider public sees businesses actively choosing to prioritize environmental goals, it inspires trust and fosters stronger customer relationships. It’s a demonstration that profitability and responsibility can go hand-in-hand.

Are you ready to make the switch?

Learn More: 5 Innovative Sustainable Products for Restaurants

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