Fact sheet: Exceptions for single-use plastic flexible straws
To ensure accessibility, the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations allow the manufacture, import and sale of flexible straws under certain conditions.
Single-use plastic (SUP) straws are prohibited by the Regulations, including straight straws and flexible straws packaged with beverage containers (i.e., juice boxes and pouches). These types of straws are prohibited whether they are made from conventional, compostable, biodegradable or biobased plastics.
It is important that people with disabilities or medical needs continue to have access to SUP flexible straws, which have a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend and maintain its position. The exceptions in the Regulations ensure that they will continue to be available on the Canadian market for suppliers and consumers.
Summary of exceptions
- The manufacture and import of SUP flexible straws are allowed
- Retailers can sell SUP flexible straws in packages of 20 or more, as long as they are not on public display and are only provided if requested
- Individuals can give SUP flexible straws to others in a family or social setting
- Care institutions can provide SUP flexible straws to their patients or residents
- A business may sell SUP flexible straws in packages of 20 or more to another business
Exceptions in detail
Manufacture and import
Businesses can manufacture or import SUP flexible straws. SUP straws that are not flexible are prohibited under all circumstances.
Retail stores (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies and online retailers) may sell SUP flexible straws in a package of 20 or more to a customer upon request. The package cannot be on public display.
Packages of SUP flexible straws can be stored behind the customer service counter, behind a cash register, or in the back with other inventory. Retailers can advertise that SUP flexible straws are available upon request in their stores, through either in-store signage or advertising in flyers.
Online retail stores cannot list packages of SUP flexible straws as recommended products to customers when they buy or search for other products, nor can they be listed as items bought by other customers. The customer should have to specifically search for SUP flexible straws to find them in the online store.
Anybody can request to purchase a package of SUP flexible straws from a retailer. This is because disabilities and medical needs can be visible or invisible. No documentation is required to purchase straws.
Sale in family and social settings
The sale of SUP flexible straws is allowed in a non-commercial, non-industrial and non-institutional setting. This means Canadians can offer straws to others in a family or social setting. This exception is required since the legal definition of “sell” includes the physical transfer of possession of a SUP flexible straw from one person to another.
For example, this exception allows:
- A family member to give a SUP flexible straw to someone in their home.
- A customer in a restaurant to bring a SUP flexible straw and provide it to someone in their group. However, a restaurant is prohibited from providing SUP flexible straws to customers, as that would be considered a sale in a commercial setting.
Sale in care institutions
It is permitted for a hospital, medical facility, long-term care facility or other care institution to sell, give or offer for free SUP flexible straws to their patients or residents. Examples of different types of care institutions can be found in the technical guidelines.
This exception does not apply to private foodservice companies that operate within the premises of the above-mentioned institutions, nor does it apply to childcare centres (e.g., daycare centres).
A business (e.g., manufacturer, importer or distributor) can sell SUP flexible straws in packages of 20 or more to another business. This allows retailers and care institutions to source flexible straws from suppliers.
This information does not in any way supersede or modify the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations, or offer any legal interpretation of those Regulations. Where there are any inconsistencies between this information and the Regulations, the Regulations take precedence.
For more information, visit the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations website.
If the information you need is unavailable on our website, contact Environment and Climate Change Canada at PlastiquesUU-SUPlastics@ec.gc.ca.
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