Big Plastic fights government efforts to curb plastic pollution in court
Environmental groups are in court this week to support the Canadian government’s efforts to fend off an industry-led effort to overturn the designation of plastics as “toxic” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The groups say it is well within the federal government’s authority to regulate plastic pollution. Ecojustice, acting on behalf of Oceana Canada and Environmental Defence, will make arguments defending the ability of the government under federal law to combat the growing plastics crisis and introduce checks and balances to hold industry accountable. The groups say industry opposition to plastics regulation is out of step with science and public opinion. The case was brought by an industry coalition that includes Canada’s three biggest plastic producers, NOVA, Dow, and Imperial Oil. The group dubbed themselves, the Responsible Plastic Use Coalition. While RPUC tells the court and the public that it wants to be part of the solution and “work toward an effective regulatory response,” its founding documents reveal its true objective, which is to “pursue all legal remedies available to prevent the regulation of plastic manufactured items under CEPA, and to conduct any associated public or government relations activities.” Last year, the coalition launched a second lawsuit, challenging Ottawa’s ban on several single-use plastic items including straws, six-pack drink holders, cutlery, and takeout s, which came into effect in December 2022. This ban was only possible because of the CEPA listing. Without the designation of plastics as ‘toxic’ under the Act, the government would not have the authority to make regulations such as this to curb plastic pollution.