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Calgary to review the federal draft of single-use plastics ban

One thing to keep on your Calgary recycling radar in 2022 is single-use plastics, said the city’s recycling programs manager.

On Tuesday, the Government of Canada said it would be moving ahead with regulations banning the sale, manufacturing and import of six different single-use plastics.  Checkout bags, cutlery, food containers, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws are targeted in the draft of the single-use regulations.

Sharon Howland, Leader, program management with waste and recycling services at the City of Calgary said this will likely be one of the biggest changes Calgarians see in 2022.

Howland said they’ve been waiting to see what the feds roll out on this before determining how the City might move ahead.  It should have an impact on what they see at recycling centres.

“What we should see is the implications of the single-use plastics ban, which should result in less single-use plastics ending up in our recycling, which is where they shouldn’t be in the first place anyway,” said Howland.

The federal government will open public consultation on the new draft regulations on Christmas Day. It will close March 5, 2022.

Howland said most of the single-use plastics they weed from the system are contaminated. She expects one of the biggest reductions to be in the use of plastic bags.

The federal government said up to 15 billion plastic bags are used annually. Nearly 57 million straws are used daily.

“Smart, clear and collaborative regulations will help drive innovation across the country as reusable and easier-to-recycle items take their place in our economy,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, in a prepared release.

The federal government said they'd like to have the ban in place as early as late 2022.

Part of the city’s climate commitment

Other Canadian cities have taken steps to reduce their single-use plastics. Earlier this year, Alberta began consultation on the rollout of the Extended Producer Responsibility.

Howland said they’d review the proposed federal government regulations to see if Calgary needed to go above and beyond.

“We've been waiting before making any decisions around plastic bag reduction or plastic bag fees or single-use plastic bag bans for retailers,” she said.

Earlier this year, the city council voted to declare a climate emergency. Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the proposed federal single-use regulations tie in nicely.

“I think our environmental emergency commitments are flexible enough to dovetail with this as it becomes Canadian law,” Carra said.

“I’m definitely supportive of these types of environmental issues being addressed at the provincial and or federal level where they have an impact and can be enacted at scale.”

Howland said Calgarians can expect to hear more about the reduction part of waste management in 2022. She said there’s a direct tie-in to climate impact.

“I think making that connection is something that we're going to hear more and more about in 2022,” Howland said.