The Federal Court overturned Canada’s ban on single-use plastic on Thursday, deeming the policy “unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
The decision found that the classification of plastics in the cabinet order was too broad to be listed on the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 and the government acted outside of its authority.
“There is no reasonable apprehension that all listed Plastic Manufactured Items are harmful,” the decision read.
The decision has essentially quashed a cabinet order that listed plastic manufactured items, such as plastic 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.”
The decision has implications for the government’s ban on six single-use plastic items. The government is only able to regulate substances for environmental protection if they are listed as toxic under CEPA.
The decision found that it was not reasonable to say all plastic manufactured items are harmful because the category is too broad.
The regulations banning plastic items are already being phased in, with a ban on manufacturing and importing six different categories already in place, and a full ban on their sale and export planned by the end of 2025.
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.
The case was brought by the Responsible Plastic Use Coalition and several chemical companies that manufacture plastics.
— with files from the Canadian Press.