The Government of Canada has announced that it "is taking additional steps to reduce Canada’s plastic waste, support innovation, and promote the use of affordable and safe alternatives" by banning "harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks)." The announcement indicates that the "measures will be grounded in scientific evidence and will align, where appropriate, with similar actions being taken in the European Union and other countries."
U.K. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced that England will ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic cotton swabs beginning in April 2020. The ban includes an exemption for those who use straws for medical needs, and registered pharmacies will be allowed to administer plastic straws. The announcement also indicates that restaurants and bars "will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out, but they will be able to provide them on request." "Today's announcement follows the success of the government's world-leading ban on microbeads and 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which has seen distribution by major supermarkets drop by 86%," the announcement states.
The Council of the European Union has voted to adopt measures banning "the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on European beaches," including cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, cups and other food and beverage containers. The ban focuses on products for which alternatives not constructed of single-use plastic are readily available. The decision will take effect 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union, and member countries will have two years to implement the legislation in their national laws.
The European Parliament has approved a ban on several types of single-use plastics that is reportedly expected to take effect by 2021. The ban will apply to plastic cutlery, plates, straws and drink stirrers, and the measure also calls for a reduction in plastic cups and other single-use plastic containers used for food and beverages. The United Kingdom will also reportedly target single-use plastics with a tax on plastics that contain less than 30 percent recycled material, with a tax on single-use plastic cups under consideration as well.
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law that will prohibit restaurants from giving patrons straws unless the patrons request them. Brown issued a signing statement indicating that the bill's purpose is to reduce plastic waste. "Ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals each year," Brown states. "Nor are humans immune as microplastics were recently found in tap water around the world. Plastics, in all forms—straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.—are choking our planet. It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products."
The California Senate has reportedly passed legislation that would prohibit dine-in restaurant employees from offering patrons plastic straws. The restriction, which passed 25-12, would allow for the provision of straws if customers ask for them. Critics of the measure in the legislature purportedly argue that the effects of plastic straws are “a bit overstated,” with one legislator pointing out that plastic straws continue to be offered in the capitol building. The measure has been returned to the California State Assembly for concurrence in amendments.
Seattle's ban on plastic straws and utensils took effect July 1, 2018, after the expiration of an exemption in a 2008 law requiring one-time-use food-service items to be compostable or recyclable. The law, which includes a medical necessity exception, can impose fines of $250 on businesses that fail to comply. Other U.S. cities have considered similar bans on plastic straws, including Washington, D.C.
The European Commission has proposed rules intended to reduce the buildup of single-use plastic in oceans. The rules would ban plastic products with a readily available and affordable alternative, such as cutlery, plates, straws and drink stirrers. In addition, manufacturers "will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness raising measures" for several plastic products, including "food containers, packets and wrappers (such as for crisps and sweets)" and "drink containers and cups."
The United Kingdom has announced plans to ban the sale of plastic straws and drink stirrers in an effort to combat plastic waste in oceans. Previous initiatives to further that goal have included a ban on microbeads in personal care products, fees for single-use plastic bags and a proposal for a deposit-return process for single-use drink containers. Plastic straws necessary for medical treatment may be exempted from the ban. "Alongside our domestic action, this week we are rallying Commonwealth countries to join us in the fight against marine plastics, with £61.4 million funding for global research and to improve waste management in developing countries," Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
The Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) has petitioned a British Columbia court to quash a “checkout bag regulation bylaw” passed by the city of Victoria, arguing the municipality does not have the legal authority to enact the rule. Canadian Plastic Bag Ass’n v. City of Victoria, No. S-180740 (S.C.R. British Columbia, filed January 22, 2018). On January 18, 2018, the Victoria City Council adopted a bylaw that prohibits businesses from providing single-use plastic shopping bags to customers and mandating them to charge from C$.15 for paper or C$1 for reusable bags. CPBA alleges that the city’s municipal powers are defined by British Columbia’s Community Charter, Spheres of Concurrent Jurisdiction—Environmental and Wildlife Regulation and the Environmental Management Act; taken together, the group argues, the provincial laws do not authorize individual municipalities to “regulate, prohibit or impose requirement[s]” related to either solid waste management or the sale or dispensing of plastic bags.…