A Federal Court judge has ruled that a federal government decision to list plastic items as toxic was “unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
In a ruling released Thursday, Justice Angela Furlanetto wrote that the category of plastic manufactured items was too broad to be given a blanket toxicity label under federal law.
“There is no reasonable apprehension that all listed [plastic manufactured items] are harmful,” Furlanetto wrote.
The case was brought forward by a group of major industrial players in plastics, including Dow Chemical, Imperial Oil and Nova Chemicals. They argued that Ottawa failed to demonstrate it had enough scientific evidence to justify the regulations.
The move to list plastic items as toxic was a key step that allowed Ottawa to proceed with a ban on some single-use plastic items. Those regulations will prohibit the sale of plastic checkout bags, cutlery, food service ware, stir sticks and straws in Canada after December 20.
The government is only able to regulate substances for environmental protection if they are listed as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. But Ottawa has said in the past that the judge’s ruling will not affect its single-use plastics ban.
The case dealt specifically with an order-in-council that originally added plastic manufactured items to the toxic substance list. Those items have now been listed as toxic by law after Bill S-5 received royal assent in June.
While Furlanetto quashed the original order-in-council, she didn’t rule on the validity of S-5. Furthermore, she wrote that only the government can remove an item from the toxic substance list.