Understanding the federal plastic ban

The Single-Use Plastic ban was announced on October 7, 2020, as a way to proactively tackle plastic waste. Although the Federal Court struck down the ban, the federal government appealed that decision, and while the matter is before the courts, the ban remains in effect.
The ban will occur in phases, with different deadlines for specific items. 

Single Use Checkout bags , cutlery, foodservice ware, stir sticks, straws:

  • manufacture and import - December 20, 2022
  • sale - December 20, 2023
  • export - December 20, 2025

Note: Exclusions to this category include:

  • waste bags,
  • bags used to package fruits, vegetables, and loose bulk food items such as candy and grains,
  • bags for meat, poultry or fish,
  • bags for flowers or potted plants,
  • bags for clothing that has been dry cleaned or professionally laundered,
  • bags for baked goods.

Ring carriers (as used to keep cans of soda, beer, together, etc.)

  • manufacture and import - June 20, 2023
  • sale - June 20, 2024
  • export - December 20, 2025

Flexible straws packaged together with a beverage container (i.e., juice box)

  • manufacture and import – still permitted
  • sale - June 20, 2024
  • export - December 20, 2025


  • When requested by a customer, selling not publicly displayed packages (of 20 or more straws) is permitted.
  • Sale in care institutions. This does not apply to daycare centres or private food services.
  • Home and social settings: A customer in a restaurant can bring a single-use flexible straw and provide it to someone in their group.

What alternatives to plastic can my business implement?
Item Recommendations
  • Consider giving consumers the option to decide if they require single-use cutlery at all
  • Investigate alternative materials (i.e., pressed/moulded fibre, bamboo, wood, edible cutlery made from wheat/oats/corn/rice)
  • When dining in, consider offering customers reusable aluminium/stainless steel options versus non-plastic single-use cutlery
  • Charging consumers a visible fee for single-use cutlery may also discourage their use
  • Investigate reusable checkout bags (ex. from paper) and bins that meet the Technical Guidelines
  • Encourage customers to bring their own bags/bins and reuse cardboard boxes
  • Option to charge consumers a modest fee
  • Advertising and consumer education about the change
  • Some drinks can be premixed and stirred before reaching the consumer
  • Investigate alternative materials (i.e., natural material, wood popsicle-sticks, bamboo stirrers, etc.)
  • Encourage consumers to go straw free (charging consumers a fee for single-use straws may also discourage their use)
  • Consider reusable straws made from metal, glass and silicone
  • Investigate alternative materials (paper, bamboo, pasta/rice straws)
  • Offer reusable silicone straws and compostable plant-based straws; option to charge consumers a modest fee
  • Encourage consumers to bring their own containers
  • Develop a deposit and refund system for reusable containers
  • Reusable alternatives include containers made of glass, stainless steel, silicone or rigid recyclable plastic
  • Some alternatives can be plant-based or fibre-based, and if certified compostable, could reduce the quantity of plastic sent to landfill. It is important to verify that these products are accepted by local recycling or organics collections programs
  • Engage with local recycling facilities to determine which plastics are recyclable

Table provided by Restaurants Canada. Information accurate as of Dec. 2022. 

Tools and Resources

With the ban on single-use plastics in effect, it's crucial for small businesses to understand the regulations and find sustainable alternatives. At CFIB, we're here to support you in navigating this transition and ensuring a smooth compliance process.

What about Compostable Bags?

Compostable bags are included under the ban. The Canadian government aims to maintain consistency and prevent potential loopholes by regulating all types of plastic bags, including those that are compostable. If you have specific questions or seek clarification on this matter, we encourage you to reach out to the Canadian Environment and Climate Change Commission (ECCC)  for accurate information.

Tips for complying with the Plastic Ban

Assess your current plastic usage: Identify the single-use plastic items you currently use in your operations and evaluate alternative options. This could include exploring biodegradable or reusable alternatives for bags, cutlery, straws, and packaging materials.

Seek sustainable suppliers: Look for suppliers who offer eco-friendly packaging and products. Many innovative companies are now offering sustainable alternatives that can align with your business values.

Communicate with your customers: Inform your customers about your commitment to reducing plastic waste and explain any changes you're making. Educate them on the environmental benefits and encourage their support in choosing eco-friendly options.

Engage your employees: Encourage your team members to embrace sustainable practices in their daily activities. By involving everyone, you can create a culture of environmental consciousness within your business.

Stay informed: Keep abreast of the latest updates and guidelines from the ECCC regarding the plastic ban. This will help you adapt your business practices accordingly and ensure compliance.


1. Are biodegradable plastic bags impacted by the ban? 
Yes, the ban on single-use plastics in Canada applies to all types of plastic bags, including biodegradable ones.

2. Can I continue to use plastic bags until depletion of existing stock? 
Yes, you can use the plastic bags you already have until they are depleted. However, it's encouraged to transition to reusable alternatives as soon as possible.

3. How do I get rid of the bags I already have? 
You can dispose of plastic bags by recycling them at designated collection points or using them for trash disposal. Avoid littering.

4. Can I use plastic bags outside a sales context? 
Yes, you can still use plastic bags for personal use, like carrying items or organizing belongings.

5. What would be the consequences of selling Single-Use Plastics (SUP) after December 20, 2023? 
Selling SUP items after the specified date may result in legal penalties and fines.

6. What other places have banned plastics? 
Several countries and regions around the world have implemented bans on single-use plastics, including the European Union, certain states in the United States, and various countries in Asia.

7. How much would plastic alternatives cost me? 
The cost of plastic alternatives varies depending on the type and quality of the alternative. While some options may initially be more expensive, they are generally more durable and cost-effective in the long run.

Plastic alternatives:

Checkout bags (excluding waste bags) 

  • Cotton bag
  • Paper bag
  • Durable, non-woven polypropylene
  • Low-density polyethylene

Cutlery  source 

  • Bamboo
  • Stainless Steel
  • Edible

Foodservice ware 

  • Kraft Containers
  • Glass containers
  • Stainless steel

Ring carriers 

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Rigid plastic snap-on carriers or fibre-based carriers
  • Adhesives that hold beverage containers together

Stir sticks 

  • Wooden stir sticks  


  • Paper
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Silicon
Embracing Challenges, Embracing Opportunities

The plastic ban presents both challenges and opportunities for small businesses. On one hand, it may require adjustments to your operations, such as finding alternatives to plastic bags or switching to eco-friendly packaging solutions. But on the other hand, embracing sustainable practices can enhance your brand reputation, attract environmentally conscious customers, and contribute to a greener future.