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Planning for the 2023 plastics ban

Canada’s ban on six categories of single-used plastics means significant changes for c-stores.
harmful plastic cutlery and eco friendly wooden cutlery. plastic free concept

On June 22, 2022, the federal government enacted Single-use Plastics Prohibitions Regulations, which prohibit the manufacture, import, sale, and export of the six categories of single-use plastic (SUP) items meeting the following general definitions.

  1. Checkout bags (or shopping/carryout/grocery bags) is defined as bags made entirely or in part of plastic, which are given to customers at point of sale to carry their purchased goods. (There are additional components to the definition depending on whether the plastic is or is not a fabric within the meaning of the Textile Labelling Act.) This includes plastic bags used to carry and deliver takeout food or drinks from c-stores. The definition excludes bags such as those used to hold organic waste for composting; “produce bags” to package fruit, vegetables, candy, grains, nuts and other loose bulk food items; and bags to protect prepared foods that are not prepackaged, such as bakery items, among other types of bags. “Fabric textile bags” meeting certain requirements are not prohibited.
  1. Cutlery is defined as items made entirely or in part from plastic that are in the shape of forks, knives, spoons, sporks and chopsticks. Banned items are those that contain polystyrene or polyethylene or change physical properties after being run through an electrically operated household dishwasher 100 times.
  1. Foodservice ware is defined as items made entirely or in part from plastic that are in the shape of clamshell containers, lidded containers, boxes, cups, plates, and bowls, such as those designed for serving or transporting ready-to-consume food and beverage at c-stores and other foodservice providers. Banned items contain polystyrene foam, polyvinyl chloride, carbon black or oxo-degradable plastics.
  1. Ring carriers are made entirely or in part from plastic that is formed in the shape of a series of deformable rings or bands, which are designed to surround beverage containers to carry them together.
  1. Stir sticks (or stirrer/mixer/muddler/stopper/plug) is defined as an item made entirely or in part from plastic that is designed to stir or mix beverages or to prevent a beverage from spilling from the lid of its container. These are often used by c-stores that offer hot beverage programs.
  1. Straws are defined as drinking straws that are made entirely or in part from plastic and contain polystyrene or polyethylene. This includes straws that change their physical properties after being run through an electrically operated household dishwasher 100 times. Flexible SUP straws are defined as a single-use plastic straw that has a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend and maintain its position. The manufacture and import of flexible SUP straws is not prohibited under the Regulations, but the sale is only permitted in certain circumstances. For example, hospitals, medical, and long-term care facilities, and other institutions may make them available to patients. In other words, not at convenience stores.

There are exclusions from and nuances to the categories, so care must be taken to consult the Regulations to determine if an item is included or excluded.

It’s important to understand that the Regulations will impact not only manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of these SUP items, but also businesses like yours that make these SUP items available to the public to eat, drink or carry their purchases.


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To help with the transition, the federal government has published Single-use Plastics Prohibitions Regulations – Technical Guidelines, as well as a guidance document.


  1. In connection with SUP cutlery, the guidelines recommend that customers be given the option to specify whether they want single-use cutlery at all for take-out meals. If single-use cutlery is requested, it should be made of alternative materials to plastic, such as bamboo, wood from sustainably managed forests, or from cereals (wheat, oats, corn or rice), and accompanied by a fee charged to the consumer to discourage use. If your c-stores has a dine-in component, offer reusable aluminum/stainless steel cutlery versus SUP cutlery.
  2. With respect to foodservice wares, its recommended customers be encouraged to bring their own containers; businesses develop a deposit and refund system for reusable containers made of materials such as glass, stainless steel, silicone or rigid recyclable plastic; businesses use plant-based or fibre-based alternatives or use recycled plastic resin provided it is “food grade.” 
Jennifer McKenzie head shot

Jennifer McKenzie is a partner in the Intellectual Property Group at Cassels. She is also a registered Canadian Trademark Agent, who offers extensive experience with regulatory, advertising and marketing law. McKenzie provides advice to clients on federal and provincial legislation, while also helping clients in relation to promotion and contest design. She can be reached at [email protected] or 416-860-6552.

What can retailers do now?

Assess your operation’s needs and stay ahead of the regulations by sourcing alternatives to single-use plastics.


June 2022: The federal government confirms it is banning companies from importing or making plastic bags and takeout containers as part of a larger effort to eliminate all plastic waste from ending up in landfills or as litter on beaches, in rivers, wetlands and forests by 2030.

Dec. 20, 2022: The ban on the manufacture and import of 1, 2, 3, 5 (except flexible SUP straws packaged with beverage containers) and 6 come into effect. The ban on the sale of these items comes into effect on Dec. 20, 2023.

June 20, 2023: The ban on the manufacture and import of 4 and flexible SUP straws packaged with beverage containers (e.g., juice boxes) will come into effect. In order to give manufacturers and retailers time to clear stock, the ban on the sale of these items will come into effect on June 20, 2024.

Dec. 20, 2025: The Regulations will prohibit the export of the above SUP items by this date.


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