Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations - Technical guidelines

List of abbreviations and acronyms

CBSA

Canada Border Services Agency

CCME

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

CEPA

Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999)

ECCC

Environment and Climate Change Canada

HC

Health Canada

HDPE

High density polyethylene

ISO

International Organization for Standardization

Regulations

Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations

SUP

Single-use Plastic

PET

Polyethylene terephthalate

PLA

Polylactic acid

PP

Polypropylene

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride

Overview

A.1 Disclaimer

As this is not a legal document, the Regulations/and or the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) (CEPA) take precedence in the event of an inconsistency between this document and the Regulations and/or CEPA.

A.2 Background

On June 22, 2022, the Government of Canada published the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations (the Regulations), in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The Regulations prohibit manufacture, import and sale of 6 categories of single-use plastics (SUP) items, with a temporary exemption for export:

The purpose of the Regulations is to prevent plastic pollution by eliminating or restricting the 6 categories of SUPs that pose a threat to the environment.

The Government of Canada has enacted the Regulations to protect the environment, make it easier for Canadians to enjoy the benefits of clean natural areas, and help foster the transition to a circular economy.

The Government developed the Regulations using a management framework that draws from the best available science and evidence, including the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution. The Science Assessment presented a thorough scientific review of the occurrence and potential impacts of plastic pollution on human health and the environment, and enabled the Government of Canada to deliver on its commitment to ban harmful SUPs. The Regulations also reflect broad consultations between 2020 and 2022 with industry, jurisdictions, civil society organizations, and thousands of individual Canadians.

The Government of Canada has committed to taking several actions to reduce plastic waste and plastic pollution. The Regulations are part of a comprehensive agenda to keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment. They reflect Canada’s shared commitments with other jurisdictions domestically and internationally to prevent plastic pollution at the source, such as the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste and the Ocean Plastics Charter.

A.3 Purpose of this document

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide information about the requirements of the Regulations to anyone who engages in the manufacture, import or sale of the 6 categories of SUPs that are included in the Regulations and who would therefore be subject to them.

These guidelines may be updated from time to time to improve clarity and to address issues with the implementation of the Regulations as they arise.

A.4 Intended audience

Anyone who may be subject to the Regulations is encouraged to familiarize themselves with the contents of this document. This may include the following:

A.5 Key terms for understanding the Regulations

A.5.1 Definition of “single-use”

Plastic items are considered single-use if they are designed to be discarded after being used once. The Regulations are intended to prohibit 6 categories of SUP items.

SUP checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, and straws have reusable substitutes also made of plastic. Plastic stir sticks are all expected to be single-use and are therefore prohibited under the Regulations.

A.5.2 Definition of “plastic”

Plastic is a broad category of synthetic chemicals (called polymers) that can have different sources, physical properties and additives. A number of sources can be used to help determine whether a material is considered a plastic. For example, the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution includes a section on the composition, properties, and uses of plastics.

Plastic resins commonly used in many of the SUP items subject to the Regulations include the following:

Other kinds of plastics subject to the Regulations include those not made from conventional feedstock (which are derived from oil and gas). These non-conventional plastics include those derived from feedstock such as corn or wood. Typical non-conventional plastics that are used in SUP items include:

Please note that there is no exhaustive list of plastics covered by the Regulations. This is because of the many different kinds of plastic that currently exist or that could be developed in the future.

A.5.3 Definition of “manufacture”

Manufacture is the activity of producing goods, in this case certain SUP items, from raw materials using manual labour, machinery, tools and biological or chemical processing or formulation. The Regulations prohibit the manufacture of all SUP items defined in Section 1 of the Regulations, including checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws. The manufacture of single-use plastic flexible straws will still be permitted.

A.5.4 Definition of “import”

Import is the act of bringing in goods, in this case certain SUP items, into Canada from another country, via either land, sea or air. The Regulations prohibit the import of all SUP items defined in Section 1 of the Regulations, including checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws. The import of single-use plastic flexible straws will still be permitted.

This includes the transportation sector, specifically the part of the sector that deals with the movement of people or goods across borders. This includes buses, trains, ships and planes that enter Canada, as follows:

A.5.5 Definition of “sale”

The Regulations prohibit the sale of all SUP items defined in Section 1 of the Regulations, including checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws.

The prohibition on sale in the Regulations includes a range of legal activities that may go beyond the common understanding of the verb “to sell.” Section 3 of CEPA defines “sell” as including “to offer for sale or lease, have in possession for sale or lease or deliver for sale or lease,” and subsection 93(2) of CEPA states that “sell” includes “the transfer of the physical possession or control of a substance.” This means that no monetary exchange needs to take place in order for the activity to be considered a sale.

The Regulations prohibit the sale of a number of SUP items. This includes the following activities:

A.5.6 Definition of “export”

Export is the act of moving goods, in this case, certain SUP items, from out Canada into another country, via either land, sea or air. The Regulations contain a temporary exemption on manufacture, import and sale for the purpose of export for all six categories of SUPs defined in Section 1 of the Regulations. The exemption will be repealed 42 months after the Regulations are registered (December 20, 2025). Export of plastic single-use flexible straws will still be permitted.

This includes the transportation sector, specifically the part of the sector that deals with the movement of people or goods across borders. In particular, buses, trains, ships and planes that depart from Canada cannot be re-stocked with SUPs while in Canada and SUPs cannot be provided to passengers.

A.5.7 Definition of “transit”

Transit is the activity of passaging through or across from one place to another. All 6 categories of SUPs defined in Section 1 of the Regulations are not prohibited if they are in transit through Canada and if they are accompanied by documents that prove that those SUPs are in transit.

In transit” refers to the portion of an international transboundary movement of the 6 SUPs through the territory of a country that is neither the point of origin nor the final destination. Whether something is considered in transit has to do with shipping destinations of the SUPs at the time of entry into Canada. Cases where SUPs are warehoused in Canada and then sold/distributed to foreign customers are prohibited.

The following 2 scenarios illustrate what may and may not be considered "in transit":

A.6 Reference documents

The Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations can be consulted in the Canada Gazette.

Other documentation related to the Regulations includes:

B. Detailed technical guidelines on the 6 categories of single-use plastic items prohibited by the Regulations

The following definitions apply to both plastic manufactured items made up of 100% plastic, and plastic manufactured items that contain any amount of plastic and another material, such as layered materials.

B.1 Single-use plastic checkout bags

B.1.1 Items covered by this definition

The Regulations (Section 1) define SUP checkout bags as:

a plastic manufactured item, made entirely or in part from plastic, that is formed in the shape of a bag that is designed to carry purchased goods from a business and

  1. whose plastic is not a fabric* as defined in section 2 of the Textile Labelling Act; or
  2. whose plastic is a fabric* as defined in section 2 of the Textile Labelling Act that will break or tear if the bag is
    1. used to carry 10 kg over a distance of 53 m 100 times; or
    2. washed in accordance with the washing procedures specified for a single domestic wash in the International Organization for Standardization standard ISO 6330 entitled Textiles—Domestic washing and drying procedures for textile testing, as amended from time to time

*Fabric: means any material woven, knitted, crocheted, knotted, braided, felted, bonded, laminated or otherwise produced from, or in combination with, a textile fibre.

SUP checkout bags have typically (but not exclusively) been given to customers at the point of sale to help the customer carry their purchased goods from businesses. This definition also includes plastic bags used to carry and deliver takeout food or drinks from a restaurant. Other terms used to describe SUP checkout bags include shopping bags, carryout bags and grocery bags.

B.1.2 Plastic bags not prohibited by the Regulations

B.1.2.1. Other plastic bags

The following plastic bags are not intended to be prohibited by the Regulations if they do not meet the definition of SUP checkout bags. This means the following types of bags are not impacted by the Regulations:

*The above list is not exhaustive, and only serves to provide examples.

B.1.2.2 Fabric checkout bags

Fabric is any woven, knitted, crocheted, knotted, braided, felted, bonded, or laminated material produced from, or in combination, with a textile fibre.

Checkout bags made of fabric containing synthetic textile fibres made of petroleum products (plastic) can continue to be manufactured, imported and sold if:

B.1.3 Coming into force of the prohibitions

The prohibitions on SUP checkout bags come into effect over a period of 42 months from when the Regulations were registered. The timelines for the coming into force dates for different activities are presented below:

B.2 Single-use plastic cutlery

B.2.1 Items covered by this definition

The Regulations (Section 1) define SUP cutlery as:

a plastic manufactured item, made entirely or in part from plastic, that is formed in the shape of a fork, knife, spoon, spork or chopstick, and that

  1. contains polystyrene or polyethylene, or
  2. changes its physical properties after being run through an electrically operated household dishwasher 100 times

The SUP cutlery prohibited by the Regulations are:

SUP cutlery has typically been made from polystyrene or polyethylene; however, items made from other plastic resins may also be available. These items have normally been given to customers of restaurants or any food vendors (such as with takeout meals) and could also have been bought in bulk at retail stores (for example, for birthday parties or barbeques). They have also often been used in various institutional settings such as hospitals and schools.

In some cases, SUP cutlery has been made from polylactic acid (PLA), however it is likely that items made out of PLA would not be able to withstand the performance criteria in the Regulations and would therefore be prohibited.

B.2.2 Plastic cutlery not prohibited by the Regulations

Any plastic cutlery that is not made from polystyrene or polyethylene is considered reusable if it does not change its physical properties after being washed in an electrically operated household dishwasher 100 times.

This means the following types of cutlery may continue to be manufactured, imported and sold*, provided they meet the performance criteria above:

*The above list is not exhaustive, and only serves to provide examples.

B.2.3 Coming into force of the prohibitions

The prohibitions on SUP cutlery come into effect over a period of 42 months from when the Regulations were registered. The timelines for the coming into force dates for different activities are presented below:

B.3 Single-use plastic foodservice ware

B.3.1 Items covered by this definition

The Regulations (Section 1) define SUP foodservice ware as:

a plastic manufactured item, made entirely or in part from plastic, that

  1. is formed in the shape of a clamshell container, lidded container, box, cup, plate or bowl
  2. is designed for serving or transporting food or beverage that is ready to be consumed, and
  3. contains expanded polystyrene foam, extruded polystyrene foam, polyvinyl chloride, a plastic that contains a black pigment produced through the partial or incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons or an oxo-degradable plastic

SUP foodservice ware prohibited by the Regulations includes any plastic manufactured item that meets all 3 of the criteria above (a, b and c). These are items that have typically been given to customers at restaurants, food vendors and grocery stores to hold a variety of food and beverages for takeout or to-go meals. The prohibitions for SUP foodservice ware extend to any activity involving the serving or transporting food and drink. This means that Canadians would also be prohibited from using these items at home or social settings. For example, SUP plates made from polystyrene foam could not be purchased from a retailer and used at a social barbeque dinner.

More information about each of the criteria is provided below. Where appropriate, non-exhaustive examples of the types of foodservice ware that may be subject to the Regulations are provided:

B.3.2 Plastic foodservice ware not prohibited by the Regulations

The following plastic foodservice ware are excluded from the definition of SUP foodservice ware and are not impacted by the Regulations as long as they are not used to primarily serve and transport food or beverage that is ready to be consumed*:

*The above list is not exhaustive, and only serves to provide examples.

B.3.3 Coming into force of the prohibitions

The prohibitions on SUP foodservice ware come into effect over a period of 42 months from when the Regulations were registered. The timelines for the coming into force dates for different activities are presented below:  

B.4 Single-use plastic ring carriers

B.4.1 Items covered by this definition

The Regulations (Section 1) define SUP ring carriers as:

a plastic manufactured item, made entirely or in part from plastic, that is formed in the shape of a series of deformable rings or bands that are designed to surround beverage containers in order to carry them together.

SUP ring carriers (often known as “six-pack rings”) have been used to package and transport beverage containers such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles. They are flexible and have typically been made from low-density polyethylene. They have been used to hold all sorts of bottles and cans that can carry food and beverages such as alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, nutrition supplements, and infant food.

Other types of ring carriers are also prohibited by the regulations. Ring carriers made from rigid plastic, having flexible or bendable parts (teeth-like plastic bits) that fit around the top of the beverage container are included in the definition (commonly referred to “dog bone collars”), and would therefore be prohibited.

B.4.2 Plastic ring carriers not prohibited by the Regulations

Rigid plastic beverage holders (for example, attached to the top of the beverage containers by snapping on) are excluded from the definition of SUP ring carriers, as they do not have flexible bands surrounding the beverage container.

B.4.3 Coming into force of the prohibitions

The prohibition on SUP ring carriers come into effect over a period of 42 months from when the Regulations were registered. The timelines for the coming into force dates for different activities are presented below:  

B.5 Single-use plastic stir sticks

B.5.1 Items covered by this definition

The Regulations (Section 1) define SUP stir sticks as:

a plastic manufactured item, made entirely or in part from plastic, that is designed to stir or mix beverages or to prevent a beverage from spilling from the lid of its container.

SUP stir sticks are known by various names such as stirrer, mixer, or muddler, among others. Typically, these have been provided to customers where beverages such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or cocktails are served so customers can stir or mix their beverages. They are also sold in bulk in retail stores.

The Regulations also prohibit stir sticks that are designed to prevent a beverage from spilling or dripping out of the lid of its container. These are known by various names such as stoppers or plugs and have typically been provided to customers where beverages such as coffee, tea or hot chocolate are served so customers will not spill their beverages.

B.5.2 Plastic stir sticks not prohibited by the Regulations

All types of plastic stir sticks are prohibited by the Regulations.

B.5.3 Coming into force of the prohibitions

The prohibitions on SUP stir sticks come into effect over a period of 42 months from when the Regulations were registered. The timelines for the coming into force dates for different activities are presented below:  

B.6 Single-use plastic straws

B.6.1 Items covered by this definition

The Regulations (Section 1) define SUP straws as:

a plastic manufactured item, made entirely or in part from plastic, that is formed in the shape of a drinking straw and that

  1. contains polystyrene or polyethylene or
  2. changes its physical properties after being run through an electrically operated household dishwasher 100 times

SUP straws have typically been given to customers of restaurants, bars and other food vendors with drinks and have also been bought by Canadians in bulk at various retail stores. SUP straws that are attached to or are sold with/accompany the packaging of certain types of beverage containers (such as those attached to juice boxes, bags or pouches) are also prohibited under the Regulations.

B.6.2 Plastic straws not prohibited by the Regulations

Manufacture and import of SUP flexible straws are not prohibited under the Regulations, but sale of SUP flexible straws is only permitted in specific circumstances (see section B.6.4 for more information on these exceptions). These flexible straws are considered more accessible than straight straws as they can bend and maintain their position.

The Regulations define SUP flexible straw as:

a single-use plastic straw that has a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend and maintain its position at various angles.

In addition, SUP plastic straws not made from polystyrene or polyethylene will not be prohibited under the Regulations as long as they do not change their physical properties after being washed in an electrically operated household dishwasher 100 times.

B.6.3 Coming into force of the prohibition

The prohibitions on SUP straws come into effect over a period of 42 months from when the Regulations were registered. The timelines for the coming into force dates for different activities and different SUP straws are presented below:  

* After this date the export of flexible straws would need to adhere to the conditions for sale as described in section B.6.4.

B.6.4. Exceptions to the Regulations - Flexible Straws

B.6.4.1 Single-use plastic flexible straws

The Regulations make 6 exceptions (section 4 and subsections 5[2], 5[3], 5[4], 5[5], and 5[6] of the Regulations) for SUP flexible straws. As stated in B.6.2, SUP flexible straws are required for accessibility purposes.

Five of the 6 exceptions are designed so that the Regulations will not prevent the availability of SUP flexible straws on the Canadian market as they do not prohibit their manufacture or import, nor their sale under certain conditions. An additional, time limited exception provides additional time for regulated parties to transition away from the SUP flexible straws attached to beverage containers. The first 5 exceptions are detailed below.

B.6.4.2 Exception for manufacture and import

The Regulations (Section 4) state that:

a person must not manufacture or import single-use plastic straws, other than single-use plastic flexible straws.

This exception means that businesses are not prevented under the Regulations from manufacturing or importing SUP flexible straws (as defined in B.6.2). SUP straws that are not flexible are prohibited under all circumstances.

B.6.4.3 Exception for sale in certain settings (home and social settings)

The Regulations (Subsection 5(2)) state that:

a person may sell single-use plastic flexible straws in a non-commercial, non-industrial and non-institutional setting.

This exception means that Canadians will not be prevented by the Regulations from offering SUP flexible straws to others in a family or social situation. Parents, for example, would not be prohibited under the Regulations from giving a SUP flexible straw to a child or a friend. This exception is required, as the definition of “sell” in CEPA includes the physical transfer of possession of a SUP flexible straw from one person to another (see A.5.5 for more information on the definition of sale).

Note that this exception is specific for individual home or social settings or situations, and does not apply to sale in a commercial, industrial or institutional setting:

B.6.4.4 Exception for business-to-business sales

The Regulations (Subsection 5(3)) state that:

a business may sell a package of 20 or more single-use plastic flexible straws to another business.

This exception means that businesses are not prohibited under the Regulations from selling SUP flexible straws in packages of twenty or more to another business. This includes all the meanings of “sell” described in A.5.5. This exception means that supply chains (for example, manufacturers, importers or distributors) would not be prevented under these Regulations from providing SUP flexible straws to retailers and care institutions. More details on these exceptions are below.

B.6.4.5 Exception for retail sales

The Regulations (Subsection 5(4)) state that:

a retail store may sell a package of 20 or more single-use plastic flexible straws to a customer if

  1. the customer requests straws, and
  2. the package is not displayed in a manner that permits the customer to view the package without the help of a store employee.

This exception means that retailers (for example, grocery stores or pharmacies) are not prohibited under the Regulations from selling packages of 20 or more SUP flexible straws to a customer provided the customer requests them.

Retailers are also required to keep SUP flexible straws out of customers’ view. The Regulations do not prescribe where retailers must keep the packages of SUP flexible straws, as long as they are out of view. For example, possible locations include behind the customer service counter, behind a cash register, or in the back with their other inventory. Retailers are also not prevented from making it known that SUP flexible straws are available upon request in their stores. This could be done via in-store signage or advertising (for example, in flyers).

Online retail stores must also adhere to these requirements regarding the sale of SUP flexible straws. Similar to SUP flexible straws in retail stores, online retailers are not prevented under the Regulations from making it known that packages of SUP flexible straws are available, for example, by including them in a list of products on their website. However, packages of SUP flexible straws cannot be listed as recommended products to customers when they buy or search for other products online, nor can they be listed as items bought by other customers. The customer should have to specifically search for packages of SUP flexible straws to reach their location in the online store.

The Regulations do not prohibit any person in Canada from requesting the purchase of SUP flexible straws from a retailer nor do they require any person to provide any documentation to a retailer to purchase them. 

Retailers, whether online or in store, are not required to:

B.6.4.6 Exception for beverage containers

The Regulations (Subsection 5(5)) state that:

a retail store may sell a single-use plastic flexible straw to a customer if the straw is packaged together with a beverage container and the packaging was done at a location other than the retail store.

This exception means that retailers are not prohibited by the Regulations from selling beverage containers that have a SUP flexible straw attached until June 20, 2024.

B.6.4.7 Exception for sale in care institutions

The Regulations (Subsection 5(6)) state that:

a hospital, medical facility, long-term care facility or other care institution may sell single-use plastic flexible straws to patients or residents.

This exception means that hospitals, medical facilities and other care institutions are not prohibited from providing SUP flexible straws to their patients or residents. The non-exhaustive information below illustrates the different types of institutions captured by this exception:

Please note that this exception does not apply to private foodservice companies that operate within the premises of the above-mentioned institutions nor does this exception apply to child care centres (e.g. daycare centres).

C. Coming into force dates summary

A summary of the timelines for the coming into force dates for different SUPs and activities is presented below:

D. Testing and analysis to determine the physical characteristics of single-use plastic items

For the application and enforcement of these Regulations, SUP items may need to be tested and analyzed. The Regulations include specific parameters that some SUPs must meet to be considered single-use. These parameters must be analyzed by accredited laboratories, as this is the standard the Government of Canada uses to verify compliance with the Regulations. This testing only applies to the following SUPs, as each have specific criteriaFootnote 1  to determine whether the item is considered single-use:

For foodservice ware, testing will be used to determine whether the item contains carbon black or oxo-degradable plastic.

Note that before December 20, 2025, SUP items that are manufactured, imported or sold for the purposes of export are not required to be tested by an accredited laboratory.

D.1 Using an accredited laboratory for testing and analysis

When a laboratory is used for testing, section 7(1) of the Regulations requires that the laboratory be accredited under:

The Regulations set the parameters for the tests that will be used by the Government to verify compliance of SUPs placed on the Canadian market.

D.2 Testing methods for single-use plastic items

The Government is currently developing methods for the SUP items that require testing. When completed, the methods will be made available upon request to assist regulated parties with understanding how ECCC will assesses products for compliance with the regulatory requirements. These methods will not be mandatory test methods; however, regulated parties have the responsibility to ensure that their products are assessed according to the requirements of the Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations. In cases where a specific test method or test parameters are not set out in the Regulations, a regulated party may identify different test procedures and/or equipment and is responsible for ensuring those procedures and equipment are suitable for the specified requirements.

E. Record keeping for export

Any person that manufactures for the purpose of export, or that imports for the purpose of export must keep records. The Regulations require that these records are kept in Canada, for a period of 5 years from the day on which records are made, so they can be inspected immediately upon request. This record keeping requirement helps ensure that these SUP items are not ending up on the Canadian market, where they would be prohibited.

E.1 Record keeping for manufacturers and importers

Section 8 of the Regulations requires any person who manufactures or imports any SUP items subject to the Regulations for the purposes of export to keep records and documents. Record keeping requirements for importers of SUP items are different than those for manufacturers.

Manufacturers are required to keep records of:

Importers are required to keep records of:

E.2 Keeping and providing records to enforcement officers

All of the records kept in accordance with the Regulations must be held at the person’s principal place of business in Canada or at any other place in Canada where they can be inspected. Records can be stored in either physical (for example, paper format) or electronic format. Records that are stored electronically must be saved on a server located in Canada and must be readily accessible on a computer at the regulated party’s place of business in Canada.

Records may be subject to inspections to ensure they are complying with the Regulations. During an inspection, enforcement officers may request to review any and all paper and/or electronic records kept under these Regulations. It is your responsibility to ensure that these records are available immediately upon request.

E.3 Period for keeping records

Subsection 9(1) of the Regulations requires that regulated parties keep all records for five years after the date on which the record, either physical or electronic, was created. For example, if a record was created on January 1, 2025, the Regulations require regulated parties to keep the records in Canada until January 1, 2030. 

E.4 Moving records

Subsection 9(2) of the Regulations requires that regulated parties notify the Minister, in writing, if the records are moved to a new location within Canada. Regulated parties must notify the Minister within 30 calendar days (not business days) and provide the Minister with the new address in Canada where the records are being kept.

Please note that this requirement applies for both physical and electronic records. For example, if a business keeps its records electronically (accessible upon request on a computer in their office) and is moving to a new office in Canada, the business must notify the Minister of this move. This is because the computer where the records are accessed from has moved (and therefore the records are considered moved as well).  

To update the civic address where records are kept, you can use one of the following methods to notify the Minister:

By mail to:

Plastics Regulatory Affairs Division,
9th floor,
371 Saint-Joseph Boulevard,
Gatineau, QC  K1A 0H3

By email to: PlastiquesUU-SUPlastics@ec.gc.ca

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