Phase One of Canada’s Single-Use Plastic Ban: Facts & Alternatives

The first phase of Canada’s Single-Use Plastic Ban includes checkout bags, cutlery, takeout items, plastic aluminum can ring carriers, stir sticks, and straws. However, the six items being banned only account for about 3% of the total amount of plastic waste created in Canada. Nevertheless, this first phase is a step in the right direction, although Canada’s single-use plastic ban can be more aggressive with shorter timelines and more single-use plastic items.

Have you thought about what you will do or use as alternatives as these items slowly phase out? We’ll outline the six items in the first phase of the ban and the other options or ways we can adapt and make this an easy transition. 

Checkout Bags 

Fifteen billion plastic bags are used every year in Canada, and these same plastic bags are also one of the significant sources of plastic found on our shorelines. Bringing your reusable bags is not something new to the citizens of Canada. In a survey conducted in 2019, 96% of Canadians shared that they bring their bags to grocery stores, but only 43% of them shared that they always do. There are many alternatives to plastic checkout bags, such as cotton, paper, polypropylene and polyethylene, and we collectively need to work towards bringing bag alternatives when we go shopping. 

Stir Sticks 

Stir sticks have become a memento for several individuals, restaurants and bars across Canada but will no longer be used. Instead, you may need to resort to bamboo or wooden sticks or stainless steel cutlery to stir your drinks in the future.

Plastic Aluminum Can Ring Carriers

Can rings will soon become an idea of the past as large to small companies phase out plastic can rings when packing beverages. Some large corporations have already committed to transitioning to fully recyclable and sustainably sourced cardboard-wrap carriers in 2022. Other innovative companies are exploring other alternatives like surplus barley straw packaging. 

Takeout Items

Plastic takeout items are used in many restaurants across the country, and we do not doubt this will be a difficult switch and transition for restaurants and venues. However, with the support of reusable takeout container services in Canada like Suppli, Reusables, Friendlier and Retournzy, we can work towards mitigating the amount of plastic waste being produced in the food industry. These companies have introduced programs that allow you to enjoy plastic-free packaging takeout and participate in the circular economy. 

Cutlery

4.5 billion pieces of plastic cutlery were sold in 2019 in Canada. Instead of missing plastic cutlery, there are a few best practices and alternatives like 1) choosing not to add any plastic cutlery to your order when ordering in, 2) choosing recycled, biodegradable or compostable cutlery whenever possible, 3) BYOC or Bringing Your Own Cutlery whether that be utensils from home or a compact kit you can carry around with you, and 4) exploring edible cutlery. 

Straws

While there will be a general ban on plastic straws, it should be made known that straws WILL still be available for accessibility and medical reasons, and that’s been recognized by the Government of Canada. There will also be caveats or provisions to the bans if it means protecting vulnerable groups, and that’s okay! We consider this a win and an opportunity to design packaging that is both inclusive and supports a waste-free future.

As you can see, these are significant items being phased out, but we must do more. We must accelerate the ban timeline and be more aggressive toward creating positive change. 

NoSUP Canada is petitioning to strengthen regulations, close loopholes in the ban, and implement a clear action plan to eliminate SUPs by 2030. The deadline to sign is September 22 at 12:10 p.m. ET!

References: 

CBC/Radio Canada. (2022, June 21). Government will ban some single-use plastics over the next 18
months | CBC News
. CBCnews. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/plastics-ban-countdown-1.6494379 

CBC/Radio Canada. (2022, July 9). Plastic ban stirs up emotions for swizzle stick collectors | CBC News.
CBCnews. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/swizzle-stick-collector-plastic-ban-1.6515419 

CBC/Radio Canada. (2022, July 7). What’s the best alternative to a single-use plastic bag? it depends |
CBC news. CBCnews. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/single-use-plastic-bag-alternatives-1.6511415 

Jiménez, J. (2022, March 30). Soda and beer companies are ditching plastic Six-pack rings. The
New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/30/us/beer-soda-plastic-rings-recycling.html 

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