P.E.I. businesses are ready to gear up for the national single-use plastic ban, announced this week by the federal Liberal government.
The list of soon-to-be-banned items was announced Wednesday morning. The regulations to introduce the ban will be finalized by the end of 2021.
The single-use plastics that will be banned are:
- Grocery checkout bags
- Stir sticks
- Six-pack rings
- Plastic cutlery
- Food takeout containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics (such as black plastic packaging)
P.E.I. has already implemented its own Plastic Bag Reduction Act on July 1, 2019. Since then, businesses have been prohibited from offering single-use plastic bags at the checkout. (Firms were allowed to use up any existing stock they had on hand before the deadline.)
But many restaurants across the Island are still offering plastic cutlery, straws and takeout containers that would fall under the national ban next year.
'It's a big change'
Xi Cei, who manages Mr. Sushi in downtown Charlottetown, said she's encouraged action is being taken on single-use plastics, but that it will likely be an adjustment for businesses.
"It's a big change and I think we will take a big step to do it, and it will be good for our future, but I think it still will have some small steps to conquer for every restaurant," Cei said.
Cei said the biggest concern for a restaurant like Mr. Sushi is delivering food using alternatives that aren't as durable as plastic. Paper containers "might not be so easy for customers" for dishes with a lot of liquid, such as soups, she said.
The upcoming ban poses less of a challenge for other restaurants, like Taste of India. With the exception of plastic cutlery, the restaurant switched to using paper takeout products last year.
"I think it's great," said manager Jessica Xu in reaction to the ban. "There's a lot of plastic that ends up in landfills and the ocean…
"The demand is already there for paper containers ... people are happier that we're using containers that are more friendly to the environment."
Looking closely at plastic alternatives
The ban is also welcome news to Gerry Moore, CEO of the Island Waste Management Corporation.
"Anything that we can do to try to eliminate or reduce the amount of landfill in the waste management business, you would view as a positive thing," Moore said.
Moore said IWMC will be looking closely at what replaces single-use plastics. Many alternatives currently on the market look like recyclable plastic but are actually compostable.
"It becomes an issue. You may have, you know, good plastic you can recycle being contaminated by similar products that aren't recyclable but are compostable, and then contaminating those recyclable streams."
Moore said he hopes that as the impending federal ban brings more plastic alternatives to the market, companies make sure that biodegradable products are clearly labelled.
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