Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The Canadian government has released a draft proposal and will follow up with guidance for businesses on how to adapt their products to avoid using plastics that cannot be recycled.
Canada’s government issued a draft proposal in December 2021 to ban certain types of single-use plastics. After a period of time to receive and analyze public comments, the regulations could go into effect before the end of 2022.
The new rules will ban the manufacture, import and sales of checkout bags, cutlery, food containers with certain plastics, ring carriers and stir sticks. Plastic straws also will be outlawed, except for people with medical needs.
The government estimates the regulations will keep 23,000 tons of plastic trash from littering Canada’s parks, streets and shorelines over a 10-year period.
Canada has been discussing a single-use plastics ban for several years, and tens of thousands of Canadians have expressed their support. In 2019, a PwC Canadian insights survey found that for both food and non-food purchases, many consumers—even those with modest incomes—are willing to pay a premium for products that are local, organic and ethically or sustainably produced. Up to 42% said they avoid the use of plastic packaging whenever possible.
According to the November 2021 EY Future Consumer Index, a significant attitude change has emerged from the way people have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are spending less on items they consider unnecessary, and they are more concerned about climate change. Of the 16,000 consumers surveyed, 85% said they consider sustainability important when they decide on a purchase.
An earlier EY survey, in August 2021, showed that 61% of those surveyed said they will pay more attention to the environmental impact of items they consume, but 64% said they are more concerned about getting good value for their money.
People are also confident that companies can find ways to incorporate more environmentally friendly procedures; 69% of Canadian consumers expect companies to solve sustainability issues.
In a recent webinar hosted by the Canadian Health Food Association, panelists agreed that sustainable packaging should not be considered just an option; it’s now a must-have. Sustainable packaging doesn’t have to cost more—in fact, it reduces costs because the packaging is lighter or requires less filler material. Also, some companies are stamping QR codes on the packaging that links to a video on how to properly recycle, reuse or repurpose packaging to eliminate waste.
With environmental concerns becoming a rising consumer focus, businesses—including Wisconsin exporters—should think about tailoring their products to meet the preferences of Canadian customers for more sustainability.