Technological watch

Canadian industry mounts legal challenge to ‘toxic' listing

A group of Canadian plastics firms announced May 19 they're planning a court challenge to the country's recent decision labeling plastic manufactured items "toxic" under the country's environmental laws.

The Responsible Plastic Use Coalition, which includes the country's largest plastics maker Nova Chemicals Corp., said it filed a notice in federal court challenging the government's May 12 decision to list plastics as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

While supporters of the government decision said it was needed to federal leaders in Ottawa, Ontario, more regulatory authority for nationwide plastic bans, the RPUC pushed back strongly, arguing that plastics manufactured goods are safe and said the move is government overreach.

"Labeling plastic as toxic is not the solution to a sustainable, circular economy that ends plastic waste," said Luis Sierra, Nova president and CEO. "There are far more beneficial solutions to divert waste from our natural environment and we stand ready to work with the government and all stakeholders to build a comprehensive circular economy for plastics in Canada."

Amherst, Nova Scotia-based Emmerson Packaging said the decision is "not based on science and will have significant impacts on businesses large and small across the country."

"As one of the largest food packaging companies in Canada, we are extremely concerned about the government's efforts to declare all plastic manufactured items as toxic," said President and CEO Stephen Emmerson. "Implying that plastic is not safe for food or our water supply is not only dangerous but completely misleading."

Canada's national government first proposed the CEPA listing last year, and said it was part of an effort to ban single-use plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and food ware.

Government officials at the time said they needed a broader plastic waste management strategy and environmental groups suggested the CEPA listing would give Ottawa more regulatory authority to raise plastics recycling above its current 9 percent rate and tackle plastics pollution.

But RPUC, which is made up of 27 companies including large packaging makers Berry Global Group Inc. and IPL Plastics Inc., along with resin maker Dow Inc., said the Canadian government's decision was not based on science. The coalition includes smaller Canadian firms as well.

"Industry leaders from across Canada have come together to take action to challenge this legislative action by the government, while continuing to encourage the federal government to implement science-based innovative solutions that will combat plastic waste — such as enhancing collection infrastructure and investing in advanced recycling," RPUC said in a statement.

Ottawa-based RPUC echoed other industry arguments against Canada's CEPA listing, saying it could stifle investment, promote products with a higher environmental footprint than plastics and create uncertainty around which additional items could be banned.

Publication date: 19/05/2021

Plastics News - packaging

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Last update: 2020-07-14