Retail Council Asks Ontario Government for Direction on Plastic Ban (?)

The Retail Council of Canada has sent an open letter to Ontario’s Minister of the Environment asking for government help with bans on single use plastic. They apparently like the idea of going with less plastic in our environment, but they’re asking that Ontario government to step in before municipalities in the province get too carried away.

In a news release, the Council said that their letter to Minister Jeff Yurek is all about going green without the red tape.

“Ontario consumers have increasing concern over the environmental impact caused by single-use plastics. Our retailers are the first point of contact between consumers and brands and are sensitive to their needs,” the release said.

“In RCC’s open letter today, we recognize the sentiment behind these motions by local governments to reduce single-use plastics,” it added. “Instead of taking local individual action, RCC’s letter to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks indicates our support for a harmonized approach, taken by the provincial government.”

Recent moves to ban single-use plastics have been taken in Aurora, where city council will soon take a vote on the matter, and in the Greater Essex County District School Board, which is working to phase out plastics in three years. The City of Guelph is also considering a ban on single-use plastics as part of its overall waste diversion strategy.

In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada will be making moves to supporting the reduction of plastic waste, up to, and including, a ban of single-use plastics like grocery bags, straws and cutlery as early as 2021.

“We’ve all seen the disturbing images of fish, sea turtles, whales, and other wildlife being injured or dying because of plastic garbage in our oceans. Canadians expect us to act,” said Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna. “That’s why our government intends to ban harmful single-use plastic products where science warrants it, and why we’re working with partners across Canada and around the world to reduce plastic pollution.”

Back in March, the Government of Ontario released a discussion paper on reducing waste and litter, and one of the potential options was a ban on single-use plastics.

“I urge the Minister to do what’s right and respond to the call from retailers with a province-wide plan to phase out single-use plastics by 2025,” said Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner in a statment. “The Minister must not ignore the most obvious and urgent solution we need to keep our environment free from plastic pollution.

“While the shift to producer responsibility is welcome, it does not negate the need for immediate solutions to cut down on the worst pollutants – from bags to plastic bottles to take-out containers,” he added.

As for the RRC, sensing a growing shift in the public consciousness, they’re pushing for the government to act now before too many municipalities across the province each have their own rules and bylaws concerning single-use plastic, and thus sewing confusion.

“Retailers of all sizes – especially those with multiple locations across multiple municipalities – find it difficult to manage the complexities of unique local restrictions which, in many cases, apply to a single store location,” said the RRC release. “A patchwork of single-use plastic by-laws adds compliance costs and operational burden to retail stores.”

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