Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault

Courtesy CBC

$250,000,000 a year — that’s how much Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s ban on everyday single-use plastics will cost Canadians a year.

Blacklock’s Reporter says regulations originally scheduled to be finalized last Friday will not be fully enforced until 2024 at the earliest.

“The proposed regulations are expected to result in $205 million in costs in the first year of full policy stringency, 2024,” the Environment department wrote in a regulatory notice, adding: “Some consumers may feel the burden of these costs more than others. These costs are significant.”

Cabinet first proposed the ban in 2020 without disclosing the impact of more expensive substitute products for consumer plastics.

Regulations would restrict the sale of plastic straws as under-the-counter goods at grocery and hardware stores and ban the sale of five other plastic products: grocery bags, six-pack rings, stir sticks, plastic cutlery and disposable polystyrene food containers.

Substitutes exist but would cost more, said a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement.

Plastic checkout bags that cost 3¢ apiece could be replaced by 8¢ paper bags, wrote staff. Consumers use about 15.6 billion checkout bags annually.

Plastic forks manufactured at 4¢ apiece could be replaced with wooden cutlery at 9¢. Penny straws may be substituted with paper straws worth 3¢ apiece. Plastic six-pack rings worth 3¢ each would be replaced with cardboard alternatives at 34¢.

Staff said “while the unit price of any one single substitute is relatively small” the overall expense multiplied by billions of substitute items was costly.

“The total substitution costs per year for the proposed regulations are expected to be significant given these substitutes would replace around 30 billion single-use plastic items annually, or around 800 single-use plastic items per Canadian,” said Impact Analysis.

The department also disclosed the amount of plastic litter to be saved by the plastics ban was less significant than originally estimated. Staff in an Oct. 7, 2020 notice claimed Canada was responsible for 29,000 tonnes of marine plastic litter polluting the world’s oceans. Impact Analysis said the actual figure was a fraction of the estimate.

“Twenty-five tonnes of the plastic waste generated in Canada in 2016 entered the oceans as plastic pollution while the amount of plastic pollution entering Canadian freshwaters, e.g. the Great Lakes, other lakes and rivers, but never reaching the oceans is unknown,” wrote staff. “Internationally academic studies have estimated the total amount of plastic pollution entering oceans globally at between eight million tonnes and 13 million tonnes per year.”

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