On Thursday, the Federal Court nullified Canada’s prohibition of single-use plastics, declaring the policy “unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
The ruling determined that the cabinet order’s classification of plastics was overly expansive to be included in Schedule 1’s List of Toxic Substances, asserting that the government exceeded its authority.
“There is no reasonable apprehension that all listed Plastic Manufactured Items are harmful,” the decision read.
Effectively, the decision invalidated a cabinet order that designated plastic products like bags, straws, and takeout containers as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said in a statement that the federal government is “strongly considering an appeal” of the decision.
“Canadians have been loud and clear that they want action to keep plastic out of our environment,” he said. “We will have more to say on next steps soon.”
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault stated that the federal government is actively contemplating an appeal of the decision.
This ruling carries consequences for the government’s ban on six specific single-use plastic items, as regulatory authority is contingent on their classification as toxic under CEPA for environmental protection.
The decision highlighted the lack of reasonability in labeling all plastic products as harmful due to the excessively broad nature of the category.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said in a statement that the decision “demonstrates a continued pattern of federal overreach intended to subvert the constitutionally protected role and rights of provinces,” and that the ban has had “wide-ranging consequences for Alberta’s economic interests.” She said the ban has put thousands of jobs and billions of investments at risk.
“Alberta is proudly home to Canada’s largest petrochemical sector, a sector with more than $18 billion in recently announced projects that were needlessly put in jeopardy by a virtue-signalling federal government with no respect for the division of powers outlined in the Canadian Constitution,” she said. She urges the federal government not to appeal the decision.
Although regulations prohibiting certain plastic items are already being phased in, with manufacturing and importing bans on six categories in effect, a complete ban on their sale and export is scheduled for the culmination of 2025.
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