Today, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, and the Minister of Health, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, announced the published final regulations to prohibit single-use plastics including:
- checkout bags;
- foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics that are hard to recycle;
- ring carriers;
- stir sticks; and
- straws (with some exceptions).
The ban on manufacturing and importing these single-use plastics, barring a few targeted exceptions to recognize specific cases, will come into effect in December 2022. The sale of these items will be prohibited as of December 2023. The government indicated that they do not intend to add any additional items to the list of six.
Restaurants Canada is concerned with today’s announcement and its timelines, as the news is placing added pressure on the foodservice industry as it continues to struggle and rebuild following the pandemic. Single-use items pose a unique challenge for foodservice operators, as Canadians are increasingly turning to delivery and takeout. While on-premise dining still accounts for most foodservice sales nationwide, on-premise sales have been losing market share to takeout and delivery orders.
Restaurant operators know that consumers want their dining experiences to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, but also want convenience. Given this market reality, restaurants are seeking solutions that reduce the environmental impacts of single-use items while allowing them to meet the needs of their customers in ways that are accessible and safe.
In removing single-use plastics from the market without enough affordable and sustainable replacement options in place, the industry will take on an estimated 125% increase in costs. This does not account for the costs associated with the increased demand for such products resulting in supply shortages.
Restaurants Canada would have appreciated a more gradual, phased-in approach to new plastics regulations, to give restaurant operators time to source safe and cost-effective packaging alternatives, and give manufacturers time to produce them.
Above all, Restaurants Canada will continue to call for a “do no harm” approach to any new government policies impacting foodservice operations as our members continue to focus on survival and recovery from the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the government to ensure our concerns are recognized.