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GOLDSTEIN: Prime Minister’s single-use plastic ban is double trouble for taxpayers


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As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moves forward with his plan to eliminate single-use plastics from the environment, his own government says the policy will double the waste it creates and double the cost to taxpayers of to get rid of.

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Meanwhile, its contribution to eliminating plastic pollution from the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers, which is the policy’s ostensible goal, will be virtually undetectable.

This will represent a reduction of three thousandths of 1% of the world’s total plastic waste, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute, “Canada’s Wasteful Plan to Regulate Plastic Waste”.

Author Kenneth Green points to the Trudeau government’s own regulatory impact analysis of its single-use plastic ban policy that was released on Christmas Day last year.

The government’s own analysis of its zero plastic policy states: “The proposed regulations would prevent approximately 1.6 million tonnes of plastics from entering the waste management system over the analysis period (2023 to 2032) , but would also add an estimated 3.2 million tonnes of other materials to the waste stream from the use of substitutes, due to their increased unit weight compared to SUPS (single-use plastics).

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Materials that will be used to replace single-use plastics – defined as grocery bags, straws, stir sticks, cutlery, to-go containers and six-pack rings – will include paper, wood, molded fiber, aluminum and even other plastics.

They will also have to be disposed of and the Trudeau government report states that “this increase in waste tonnage (will represent) additional costs for municipalities and provincial authorities, since they are generally responsible for managing the collection, transport and landfilling plastic waste, and would bear most of the associated costs, which would ultimately be passed on to taxpayers.

The Trudeau government’s analysis concludes that the net cost to Canadians of its regulations banning single-use plastics will be $1.3 billion from 2023 to 2032, double the net savings of $619 million.

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Green noted that when the Trudeau government fully implements its zero plastic strategy — which goes far beyond the six elements cited in the government’s analysis — the annual costs by 2030 will outweigh the benefits by $300 million. dollars.

“Imposing costs on Canadian society that outweigh the benefits… fails the first, and arguably most important, test of sound public policy,” Green wrote.

He said the Trudeau government’s 2030 zero plastic waste plan – ZPW2030 for short – “will produce little or no environmental benefit because Canada’s plastics economy poses very little local or global environmental risk.

“Only 1% of plastic waste in Canada is dumped into the environment. The other 99% is disposed of in an environmentally safe way: some is incinerated, others recycled, but most is disposed of in landfills, an end point that is not harmful to the environment. »

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All of this raises the question of why the Prime Minister is once again imposing new costs on Canadians in an era of record inflation for what is little more than a token benefit versus a real environmental benefit. – a bit like its policy on climate change.

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As an alternative, Green said, the Trudeau government “should consider abandoning the plan to regulate plastic waste — an almost insignificant environmental issue in Canada and as part of our global contribution to the plastic waste problem.”

“Instead, policymakers could look at ways to crack down on the improper disposal of plastic waste (litter in general); and to improve street cleaning and municipal waste management and treatment to prevent plastic waste from lingering in the environment.

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