On November 25, 2021, the British Columbia government's Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2021 came into force. This Act amended the previous Environmental Management Act, in an effort to improve the province's ability to regulate single-use products.
Key Changes to BC's Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2021
- The definition of “single-use product” was added - a product that is ordinarily disposed of after a single use or short-term use, whether or not the product could be reused;
- The definition of "packaging"including a material, substance or object that is sold or distributed separately from the commodity or product that it will protect, contain or transport products.
- Adds new powers to make regulations designed to prohibit or restrict the use, distribution, and sale of “single-use products” and” packaging”
No Immediate Affect on Regulatory Landscape for Single-use Products
However, passing the Act will not immediately affect the regulatory landscape for single-use products. New regulations should be enacted first, in order to create fresh restrictions or bans. This will allow the province to regulate single-use products and packages regardless of the material they are produced from.
Regulations regarding single-use plastics will be among the first to be implemented. Following a consultation process, the BC government expects to do so by early 2023.
As well, on July of 2021, municipalities were allowed to ban the use of plastic bags and certain single-use plastics without provincial approval. Since then, several municipalities started implementing bylaws to prevent plastics from polluting their communities. This has also influenced the provincial implementation of an Act to regulate single-use products.
The coordination between municipalities and the province will be a key component to avoid a potential patchwork among localities. The government needs to ensure consistency and transparency to have a successful implementation.
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