The first phase of Canada’s single-use plastics ban has come into force, but it’s leaving many people wondering what the change is going to look like in their everyday lives and for the environment. Over the next couple of years, we should expect to see a reduction in some key single-use plastics in beach and community cleanups. And that’s obviously a goal. But the reality is that many – or actually most– polluting plastics will be left to continue to wreak havoc, threatening the health of people, wildlife, the climate and ecosystems. 

And that’s why Greenpeace along with our friends at Environmental Defence, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Health and Environment Justice Support, Friends of the Earth Canada, Mind Your Plastic and the David Suzuki Foundation have been calling on the federal government to expand the single-use plastic ban to be more comprehensive in scope, and bold in action. Banning the first six single-use plastics was a key step forward, and now it’s time for the next six! 

This week we ramped up our call to #ExpandTheBan by releasing an agreed priority ban list. The list consists of six categories of single-use plastic items and a group of highly problematic substances. But it’s not just the usual environmental groups who are calling for this change. In an open letter to Minister Guilbeault and Minister Duclos: we have been joined by over 60 groups that include health organizations, businesses, reuse providers and other parties who want to see plastic reduction prioritized. 

Here is the letter that we will deliver tomorrow. If your group wants to add your support, reach out to us and we’ll add your name!

Dear Minister Guilbeault and Minister Duclos,

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, are deeply concerned about the plastic waste and pollution crisis and its devastating impacts worldwide. As responsible ministers for theCanadian Environmental Protection Act – “an Act respecting pollution prevention and the protection of the environment and human health”, we urge you to take bolder and urgent action to tackle the crisis by expanding the single-use plastics ban to include a more comprehensive list of problematic plastics and substances. 

The federal, provincial and territorial governments have already identified a substantive list of plastic items that end up in the environment, are harmful to habitats and species, and/or cause significant challenges in end of life management. Plastic pollutes at each stage of its lifecycle and puts the health of the climate, wildlife, ecosystems, and humans at risk. Downstream management measures are insufficient to reduce waste and curb pollution, and the reduction of plastic produced is required to prevent further harm.

Canada committed to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030; however, the current ban covers only about 3 per cent of the plastic waste generated nationwide. To meet this goal, and key climate and biodiversity restoration targets, the production, distribution, sale, import and export of problematic and unnecessary plastic must be phased out through stronger regulatory action. 

To build on the previous six single-use plastics that are covered by the ban, we call for an expansion of the ban to include these next six categories of single-use plastic manufactured items.

1) All takeout containers, cups and lids
2) Bottles and caps
3) Sachets, pouches and wrappers
4) Bags, film and wrap
5) Filtered cigarettes
6) Produce stickers

We further call for the elimination of the following highly problematic polymers, chemical additives and types of plastic products:

1) Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
2) Polystyrene
3) Polyurethanes
4) Fluorinated polymers

Chemical additives:
1) Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
2) Phthalates
3) Bisphenols
4) Brominated flame retardants
5) Chlorinated paraffins
6) Benzotriazole UV stabilizers

1) So-called “flushables”
2) So-called “biodegradable,” “compostable” and “oxo-degradable” plastics

Canada is well-positioned to set a new precedent on taking meaningful action to mirror the urgency and scale of the worsening pollution crisis. We represent thousands of people across Canada who are calling on you to commit to expanding the ban, and accelerate a just transition to zero waste, circular systems centred on reuse. 

Action Environnement Basses-Laurentides
Anarres Natural Health Apothecary
Association québécoise Zéro Déchet (AQZD)
Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative
Bateau bateau
Boco Boco
Breast Cancer Action Quebec
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
Circulr Inc.
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Collectivité zéro émission nette L’Assomption-D’Autray
Comité de vigilance environnementale de l’est de Montréal (CVEEM)
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
David Suzuki Foundation
Eau Secours
Ecology Action Centre
Environmental Defence Canada
ENvironnement Jeunesse(ENJEU)
Environnement Vert Plus
Etobicoke Climate Action
Fondation Rivières
Friends of the Earth Canada
Front commun québécois pour une gestion écologique des déchets (FCQGED)
Green 13
Greenpeace Canada
Health and Environment Justice Support
Inwit Zero Waste Takeout & Corporate Meals
L’Assomption en Transition
La Récolte
La Vague
Le Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain – CSN
Le Front commun pour la transition énergétique (FCTÉ)
Les Aliments Naturels L’Eau Vive
Let’s Talk Trash
Mind Your Plastic
Nanaimo Recycling Exchange Society
NON à une marée noire dans le Saint-Laurent
Ontario Nature
Ontario Rivers Alliance
Packt Reuse Systems Inc.
Parkdale-HighPark for Climate Action
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
Prospérité Sans Pétrole
Réseau des femmes en environnement
Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes (RQGE)
Solidarité environnement Sutton
Surfrider Foundation Canada
The Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples
Toronto Environmental Alliance
Union des employés et employées de service, Section Locale 800
Univert Laval
Vrac Sur Roues
Wallaceburg Advisory Team for a Cleaner Habitat (WATCH)
Waste Watch Ottawa
Women’s Healthy Environments Network (WHEN)
Zero Waste British Columbia
Zero Waste Canada
Zero Waste Hub Toronto

Why we must keep pushing to end all disposables 

If you’ve noticed that some of your local restaurants, bars, cafes or other establishments offer takeout or dine-in fare with new types of products or packaging, they may have already phased out the banned items. Maybe they even reevaluated their business model to consider how they can reduce their reliance on plastic overall. 

But you may have also noticed that the new type of packaging offered at some places is just a different type of plastic or single-use option. This is not what we want the outcome of the ban to be. We don’t want to replace one plastic with another or swap one harmful product for another. Furthermore, switching from plastic to paper or other biobased single-use alternatives isn’t going to help us reduce our overall impact on our ailing planet, or reduce the waste and pollution we’re generating. We can’t let industry push false solutions like chemical recycling or try to convince us that so-called “compostable plastics” or 100% recycled plastic is going to help dig us out from under our global plastic mountain. 

Clean Up and Polluter Brand Audit Activity in Vancouver, Canada.
Collected cigarette butts. For World Clean-up Day, Greenpeace alongside community allies, volunteers, and a Greenpeace local group coordinate a clean-up activity and plastic polluter brand audit. The audit seeks to identify the major corporate contributors to plastic waste polluting shorelines, green spaces and communities.

The current ban only covers about 3 per cent of the plastic waste we generate nationwide. Three. Per. Cent. Plastic pollutes at each stage of its life cycle. There’s no such thing as a circular economy for plastics, but there is such a thing as a circular economy, and there is a growing movement in Canada and around the world that is propelling our transition to it. 

You can help! Join us in urging Minister Guilbeault and Minister Duclos to act now to #ExpandTheBan and help Canada lead in breaking free from plastic. RETWEET the post below, or click here to send your own tweet to Environment Minister Guilbeault and Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos.