Single use plastic ban in Canada

Single-use Plastic Ban in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

Ban on single-use plastic is an important part of Canada's Government’s plan to zero plastic waste by 2030. Here is the overview, timeline, and exceptional cases your restaurant needs to know.

Overview of single-use plastic Issues

Impact of single-use plastic on the Environment and People's Health

Every year, millions tone of single-use plastic are produced to meet consumers’ needs.  It is designed to be served in a used one. Its production, consumption, and improper disposal significantly impact the environment and human health.

Environmentally, the production of single-use plastic consumes fuels and accelerates climate change. Single-use plastic which ends up in landfills, and oceans, takes hundreds of years to decompose leading to pollution, and danger to marine animals.

On the health front, single-use plastic can release harmful chemicals when heated or in contact with food. Plus, microplastic, formed from plastic fragments, has been found everywhere, in water, food, and soil, posing health risks.

Single-use plastic waste in the food and beverage industry

Single-use plastic including plastic bottles, food containers, straws, stirs, and ring carriers, become indispensable in food and beverage. Now, they become a pressing issue with numerous negative consequences for the environment and human health.

According to the statistics, 12.5 million tonnes of plastic were used for food production worldwide. Almost 40% of plastic produced is for packaging. But only 9% of plastic waste has ever been recycled.  Regarding Canada, it is estimated that around 3.3 million metric tons of plastic waste annually. For this reason, reducing single-use plastic become an urge for all of us.

Single-use plastic ban in Canada

Explanation of the single-use plastic ban

In June 2022, the Liberal Government officially announced the ban on single-use plastic items to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The prohibition applies to the manufacture, import for sale of 6 categories of single-use plastic including:

  • Check out bags
  • Cutlery includes
  • Food service ware made from or containing problematic plastic
  • Ring carriers
  • Stir sticks
  • Straws

Guideline on the 6 categories of singles-use plastics banned in Canada

  • Check-out bags: Single-use plastic bags made entirely or in part from plastic is going to be prohibited. Other plastic bags such as those for organic waste composting, recycling, garbage disposal, packaging bulk food, meat, poultry, flowers, newspaper, and more are not prohibited by regulations.
  • Cutlery: The single-use plastic cutlery prohibited are: forks, knives, spoons, sporks, and chopsticks. The prohibited cutlery list does not include the cutlery made of polystyrene or polyethylene which is considered reusable if it retains its properties after 100 dishwasher washes.
  • Food service ware: Food containers containing problematic plastic will be banned. The problematic plastics are polystyrene foam, extrude polystyrene foam, polyvinyl chloride, black pigmented plastic from incomplete combustion, or oxo-degradable plastic. The regulation excludes certain plastic foodservice such as stays without lids, flexible packaging for ready-to-eat food, containers with frozen food that requires preparation, containers for raw meat or fish, cups of containers for medication in hospitals or care institutions, and long-term storage containers.
  • Ring carriers: single-use plastic ring carriers as known as “six-pack rings” used to hold or carry food and beverage are prohibited. The prohibition does not apply to rigid beverage holders that do not have deformable rings or bans surrounding the beverage container.
  • Stir sticks: all types of plastic stir sticks are prohibited.
  • Straws: The Regulations prohibited single-use plastic straws that contain polystyrene or polyethylene or change their properties after being washed in a household dishwasher 100 times. The regulations exclude sing-plastic flexible straws. The Single-use plastic straws flexible are straws with a corrugated section that allow them to be and maintain their position at various angles.

Specific examples of single-use plastics in restaurants

After the Covid pandemic, customer behavior is changing. People have a tendency to order online, or take-out food more than before. This is leading to the grow of single-use plastic packaging taking food in restaurants because of its convenience and efficiency. Restaurants need a wide range of food packaging, for example:

  • Plastic/foam food containers for dry food, salad, noodles, treats, …
  • Plastic cups and straws for drinks, coffee
  • Plastic soup cups for noodles, soup, wet food.
  • Plastic to cover food
  • Plastic bags to carry food
restaurants single use plastic waste

    Exception to the ban on single-use plastic:

    There are some single-use plastics as below:

    • Flexible plastic straws: sold in packs of 20 minimum, customer request.
    • Reusable plastic check-out bags: usable at least 100 times when carrying up to 10kg over 53 meters.
    • Reusable plastic cutlery: able washed at least 100 times in household dishwasher.

    Implementation timeline and key milestones

    Single-use plastic item

    Manufacture and import for sale in Canada

    Sale

    Manufacture, import and sale for export

    Check-out bags, cutlery, food containers, stir stick, straws*

    December 20, 2022

    December 20, 2023

    December 20, 2025

    Ring carriers

    June 20, 2023

    June 20, 2024

    December 20, 2025

    Flexible straws packaged with beverage containers

     

    June 20, 2024

    December 20, 205

    *Single-use plastic flexibles straws are not packaged with beverage containers are excluded under certain conditions.

    Montreal Plastic Ban

    Difference between the Montreal Single-use plastics ban and the Federal Ban

    Montreal promulgates their own ban on single-use plastic starting from March 28th, 2023. The single-use plastic items banned in Montreal include:

    • Single-use shopping bags.
    • Cups and lids
    • Stir sticks and utensils
    • Plates and bowls
    • Containers and lids
    • Trays, except for meat and fish.

    So, in comparison with the Federal ban, Montreal’s ban applies to a wider range of single-use plastic items and compostable plastic products.

    Here is the table showing the difference of compostable products accepted in Canada and Montreal:

    Items

    Canada

    Montreal

    PLA cutlery

    Y

    N

    Paper/Wood Cutlery

    Y

    Y

    PLA cups, plates, bowls

    Y

    N

    Paper cups, plates, bowls

    Y

    Y

    PLA containers, trays

    Y

    N

    Paper/Bagasse Containers, Trays

    Y

    Y

    PLA Flex straws

    Certain restrictions apply

    Certain restrictions apply

    Paper straws

    Y

    Y

    PLA shopping bas

    N

    N

    Paper shopping bags

    Y

    Y

    PLA stir sticks

    N

    N

    Wood stir sticks

    Y

    Y

    Note: Y: accepted, N: banned, 

    Exceptions for the Montreal Single-use Plastic Items Ban

    The Montreal single-use plastic ban does not apply to food production, preparation and packaging business that do not sell directly to consumers on-site. For examples:

    • Farms
    • Microgreen producers
    • Food packaging for grocery stores
    • Catering services
    • Prepared meal suppliers
    • Grocery stores
    • Restaurants that offer delivery only
    • Non-profit organizations involved in food distribution as part of their mission

    Challenges Faced by single-use plastic Ban and Solution for Restaurants

    Challenges for restaurants

    The ban on single-use plastic brings different positives to the environment, but poses many challenges for restaurants in term of costing and strategy, as below:

    • Transition and adaptation: restaurants must prepare and find alternatives, provide staff training to avoid a sudden changing and a smooth transition.
    • Cost problem: Eco-packaging can sometimes be more expensive than single-use plastic options, putting financial strain on restaurants, particularly small restaurants.
    • Consumer preferences and expectations: some customers may prefer the convenience of single-use plastic over the alternative options. Any minor change can influence customer behavior.
    • Consistent supply: Finding a supplier seems a little difficult, especially for small restaurants that have a low budget and need a small number of products.

    Initiatives to overcome the single-use plastic ban 

    To overcome smoothly the single-use plastic ban, business and restaurant owners have to be active in driving change and finding solutions. Here are some initiatives your business can consider:

    • Conduct research and collaborate with industry partners: restaurants can actively research for the best alternatives, suitable to restaurant size. Collaborating with reliable suppliers, associations can provide valuable insights. As a green packaging provider, KimEcopak offers restaurants a range of high-quality products with exclusive benefits like discounts, scheduled delivery, …
    • Optimize packaging to minimize single-use plastic: Restaurants can reassess their menu and packaging needs to reduce maximum plastic. Using biodegradable or compostable packaging or encouraging customers to bring their packaging.  
    • Manage costs: Choosing cost-effective alternatives, bulk purchasing, and negotiating with partners, applying technology to manage cost,… This can help restaurants optimize and manage cash flow better.
    • Educate and engage customers on the benefits of sustainable practices: Restaurants can promote green living in different ways. Such as: using social media or pratiques activities to communicate, educate and encourage customers.

    In conclusion, Canada's ban on single-use plastic is being enforced to reduce plastic waste and provide a brighter future. As this restriction comes into effect, it brings about a range of changes and considerations for establishments, including restaurants. These businesses need to prepare and strategize to effectively adapt to the new circumstances

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