CCentral-Main-logo-EN-trans

Convenience Central
Join our community
extra content
shutterstock_700694767

Straws, stir sticks and bags among first targets of countrywide plastics ban

shutterstock_700694767Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says six single-use plastic items that aren’t easily recycled and already have more environmentally friendly alternatives will be the first to go under Canada’s new restrictions on plastics.

That means the end of next year will be the end of the road for plastic straws, stir sticks, carry-out bags, cutlery, dishes and takeout containers and six-pack rings for cans and bottles.

Wilkinson says many of the items that aren’t on that list, such as plastic bottles, will be getting new standards to require them to contain a minimum amount of recycled material.

He says there is also a push to standardize how plastic items are made, from the types and amounts of plastic used to the dyes and adhesives, so recycling them is easier.

The Alberta government announced Tuesday it wants to become a hub for Canada’s expanding recycling industry.

Canada currently recycles less than 10% of the three million tonnes of plastic it produces each year, and along with the provinces has set a goal of have zero plastic waste ending up in landfills by 2030.

“There is an enormous amount of opportunity for improvement,” said Wilkinson, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Canada intends to add plastics to a list of toxic items under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and is issuing a discussion paper on the banned items and recycled content standards and other plans.

Wilkinson said the aim is to have everything in place by the end of next year.

A 2019 report commissioned by Environment Canada found Canada’s recycling industry was hampered by cost and access. It is cheaper and easier to produce new plastic than it is to recycle it, reuse it or repair it, and without minimum standards requiring the use of recycled content, the market for recycled plastic was small.

The report said in 2016, Canadians threw 3.3 million tonnes of plastic away, 12 times what was recycled.

It said there were fewer than a dozen recycling companies in Canada, employing about 500 people with about $350 million in revenue between them.

Until recently, Canada and most other wealthy nations shipped much of the recyclable plastic tossed in their blue bins across the ocean to Asia. China in particular was the biggest buyer of the items, which were recycled into plastic pellets used in its massive manufacturing sector.

But China slammed the door shut to that option at the beginning of 2018, tired of being the world’s garbage dump. So much of the material arriving by the shipload could not be recycled and ended up in landfills in China instead.

Canada will join dozens of nations that have enacted various bans on single-use plastics. The United Kingdom just began enforcing a ban on straws, stir sticks and plastic-stemmed cotton buds just last week.

France began phasing in a ban in January, starting with plastic plates, cups and cotton buds. Straws and cutlery will be added in 2021, and tea bags, fast-food toys and takeout containers in 2022.

READ:


Shutterstock

Ottawa moves to restrict vaping advertisements to prevent youth exposure

Health Canada is proposing to ban advertising of vaping products in spaces where young people can see them in a bid to rein in the rise of underage e-cigarette use.

Minister Patty Hajdu put forward new rules Dec. 19 that would prohibit vaping promotion in specialty shops, businesses and online platforms frequented by youth.

Hajdu also announced requirements that vaping packages feature health warnings and be child-resistant, as well as plans to place limits on nicotine content in vaping liquids to reduce the risk of accidental child poisoning.

“The new measures announced today will help, but there is more to do,” Hajdu said in a statement. “We are working on further steps to protect youth and our message remains clear: vaping comes with serious risks.”

Ottawa has been holding consultations this year on measures to restrict advertising for e-cigarettes in the face of growing evidence that vaping has taken off among teens.

According to the 2018-2019 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, the number of high school students who reported vaping in the past month doubled to 20% since 2016-2017.

A spokesperson for Juul Labs Canada said the e-cigarette maker is reviewing the proposed regulations.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, praised the government’s plan as a strong start, but said “comprehensive action” is still needed, such as restricting flavours and implementing a tax.

“Right now, youth are being exposed to e-cigarette advertising in social media, on billboards, on television, and many other places, and that’s going to end with these regulations,” he said.

However, Cunningham urged federal lawmakers to also follow their provincial counterparts in clamping down on the availability of vaping products.

“We have made such progress to reduce youth smoking, but now we’re seeing a whole new generation of kids becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes. That simply shouldn’t be happening,” he said.

Earlier this month, Nova Scotia’s health minister announced the province will be the first to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices, and Ontario is considering a similar move.

Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador have also adopted new vaping restrictions in recent months.

The P.E.I. government passed legislation last month that raised the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21, setting the highest age limit in the country.

In British Columbia, a 10-point plan is aimed at protecting youth from the health risks of vaping, including legislation that caps the nicotine concentration in e-liquids and hiking the provincial sales tax on such products from seven% to 20%.

Cunningham said the issue has taken on new urgency due to mounting concern about the links between vaping and respiratory disease.

In the United States, 47 deaths have been attributed to vaping, and 2,000 cases of severe lung disease have been reported. Thirteen cases of vaping-associated lung illness had been reported in Canada as of Dec. 3. So far there have been no deaths.

 


Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 3.50.33 PM

‘You can call anything a national concern:’ Alberta questions federal carbon tax

Allowing Ottawa’s carbon tax law to stand would give the federal government a tool it could use to repeatedly chip away at provincial powers, lawyers for the Alberta government argued Monday.

“If you uphold this legislation, you’re opening the door to exactly that type of thing,” Peter Gall told a panel of five Alberta Court of Appeal judges.

The federal government justifies the law under a section of the Constitution that allows Ottawa to step in over issues of “national concern.”

Gall argued such issues are rare. Greenhouse gases don’t meet the test, he said, and letting the carbon tax law stand would open the door to allowing Parliament to step in whenever it wanted.

“You can call anything a national concern,” he told court.

The Constitution gives provinces adequate power to regulate greenhouse gases and Ottawa’s legislation simply ties their hands, Gall said.

“It’s invasive in terms of taking away policy options that would otherwise be open to the provinces.”

Alberta is the latest province to challenge the tax. Ontario and Saskatchewan lost cases in their top courts, but are appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The attorneys-general of Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are also to speak during the three-day hearing in Edmonton. Eight First Nations, non-governmental groups and Crown corporations have also been granted intervener status.

Ottawa argues that authorization for the tax comes under the Constitution’s peace, order and good government clause. Establishing minimum national standards on greenhouse gas emissions “is a matter of national concern that only Parliament can address.”

University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams said using the nation concern argument to justify the law is a bit of a leap.

“The federal government made a gamble here that this was a case that was worth opening up that previously neglected box,” Adams said. “They’ve taken a bit of a risk here.”

He said he believes Alberta is unlikely to win. But if there’s a dissenting judge, that could bolster the government’s argument before the Supreme Court, which has already scheduled a January date for the Ontario and Saskatchewan appeals.

“If they don’t win, they hope for a judgment from some judges that lends weight and credibility, and maybe a new perspective to add to the dissenting opinions that have already been rendered in Saskatchewan and Ontario,” said Adams.

Three out of five Saskatchewan appellate judges agreed with Ottawa, as did four out of five of their Ontario colleagues. Past judgments have recognized the environment as a matter of shared jurisdiction.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney ditched a consumer carbon tax that the previous NDP government had brought in soon after his United Conservatives won the provincial election in April.

He has established a $30-a-tonne carbon tax on industrial emitters, replacing somewhat stronger measures introduced by the former NDP government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have approved that tax.

The consumer carbon tax is to begin in Alberta starting Jan. 1.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said in a statement Monday that Ottawa doesn’t always know best.

“Even if you support a carbon tax, it doesn’t mean that the federal government’s carbon tax is the best or only approach for every province,” he said.

“Each province is unique, with different economies, different demographics, and different geographies. That is why our federation is structured to give provinces the right to make our own laws and regulations over businesses when it comes to issues like reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

 


shutterstock_772541140

Feds approve Alberta’s carbon tax on big industrial emitters

shutterstock_772541140
The federal government is giving the Alberta government a passing grade for its industrial carbon tax.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says his department agrees Alberta’s planned $30-a-tonne carbon price on emissions from big industry meets federal requirements.

However the climate battles between Ottawa and Edmonton will continue because on Jan. 1 the federal government will still start applying its carbon tax on the purchase in Alberta of fuels like gasoline, natural gas, and propane.

Alberta used to have a consumer carbon tax on fuel but Premier Jason Kenney and the newly elected United Conservative Party cancelled it earlier this year.

A fuel surcharge and a carbon tax for big industry are the two components of the national carbon pricing system applied in any province without similar systems of their own.

Since April, Ottawa has applied the fuel surcharge in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick but Saskatchewan was exempted from most of the big-industry element because it has a version that Ottawa deemed strong enough.