Canadian Manufacturing

Single use plastics ban changing restaurant takeout ware across the country

The Canadian Press

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Some restaurants have already gone through months of trial and error in an effort to find the best alternatives to single-use plastic items.

Customers may notice takeout containers, straws and other items being swapped for greener alternatives in the new year as Canada’s food service industry adjusts to the phase-in of a federal law that aims to eventually remove many single-use plastics from the market altogether.

Some restaurants have already gone through months of trial and error in an effort to find the best alternatives to single-use plastic items.

“We try to stay ahead of the game,” said Paul Bognar, president and chief operating officer of Service Inspired Restaurants, which operates numerous restaurants including Jack Astor’s and Scaddabush.

Though single-use plastics aren’t fully banned yet, he said the company’s restaurants are ready to transition away from plastics early in the new year after months of testing.


After a year-long delay, the first phase of the federal law began on Dec. 20. The initial phase prohibits the manufacturing and import-for-sale of a range of single-use plastics, including: checkout bags like the ones used in grocery stores; cutlery such as forks, knives and chopsticks; takeout containers made partially or fully from plastic, including styrofoam, carbon black and oxo-degradable plastic; stir sticks; and drinking straws, except to accommodate people who need them. Plastic ring carriers will be banned for manufacture and import-for-sale in June 2023.

December 2023 will see a ban on the sale of all these products, except for ring carriers, which will be banned for sale in June 2024, and in December 2025 a ban on the manufacture, import and export for sale of all these products will come into effect.

That means single-use plastics won’t be completely gone from restaurants, cafes and bars just yet, as many will still be using up their stock. But many companies have already started the transition so they’re prepared once they can no longer buy these products.

For example, Tim Hortons recently announced it’s rolling out new recyclable fibre hot drink lids, compostable cutlery, and breakfast and lunch wrappers in 2023. McDonald’s started removing some single-use plastics from its restaurants in late 2021, including straws, cutlery and stir sticks.

Bognar said Service Inspired Restaurants recently transitioned to bamboo takeout cutlery, and has started asking people whether they want cutlery at all.


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