No Appeal: Most say government should accept Federal Court ruling on plastics as reusable bags preferred

No Appeal: Most say government should accept Federal Court ruling on plastics as reusable bags preferred

Majority who feel the government should abandon legal fight also prefer cloth bags at grocery store


November 29, 2023 – The federal government has announced its plans to appeal a Federal Court decision rejecting its single-use plastics ban, citing that the Liberals had “overstepped” in labelling all “plastic manufactured items” as toxic.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds few Canadians supporting an appeal largely driven by a significant segment of the population who would use reusable bags even if single-use ones were available.

While one-quarter say they would appeal the decision, a larger group say the government should re-formulate another way to ban single-use plastics, rather than appeal. Three-in-ten Canadians would take no additional action and simply accept the decision.

This comes as the ban has perhaps already affected Canadians’ behaviour. Three-quarters say they prefer to use their own reusable bags for groceries regardless of a ban on plastic ones. As well, a majority (54%) of those who believe the federal government should accept the decision and give up on enacting a single-use plastics ban also say they prefer to use cloth bags.

After four-in-five Canadians said a single-use plastics ban was a “good idea’ in 2020, there are many who still feel it is effective, but would prefer the federal government give up its legal fight and find another way to implement it. Two-in-five (42%) of those who believe the ban reduced plastic waste say the federal government should accept the Federal Court’s decision but explore another route to ban single-use plastics.

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting, and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

INDEX

  • What to do in response to ruling?

  • Most want government to accept ruling, but majority want single-use plastics ban

  • Three-quarters say they prefer using their reusable bags

  • Four-in-five felt single-use plastic ban was a good idea

  • Majority feel single-use ban effective way to reduce plastic waste

    • Those who see ban as effective prefer government find another way to enforce

What to do in response to ruling?

In December 2022 the federal government implemented a ban on single-use plastics, including shopping bags, cutlery, takeout containers, stir sticks, and straws by labelling them as toxic substances. This was put forth as part of a global effort to reduce plastic waste. The ban was struck down by a Federal Court ruling this month after a court challenge brought forward by plastic producers including Dow Chemical and Imperial Oil. The federal government said it is planning to appeal the decision.

Most want government to accept ruling, but majority want single-use plastics ban

There does appear to be significant appetite for a plastic ban, even if it is not this current iteration of government legislation. One-third (32%) of Canadians believe the government should accept the ruling but pursue an alternative path to a single-use plastic ban, while one-quarter (24%) want Ottawa to appeal the ruling. Three-in-ten say neither path is worth pursuing:

Three-quarters say they prefer using their reusable bags

Canadians, themselves, may have already undertaken a significant behavioural shift – at least when it comes to grocery shopping. Given the choice, three-quarters say they would use their own reusable bags at the grocery store than single-use plastics. A majority of all demographics say they prefer reusable to single-use:

There is perhaps a sense that the single-use plastics ban has already done its job and may be unnecessary. A majority (54%) of those who want the federal government to neither appeal nor pursue an alternate path to banning single-use plastics say they prefer to use reusable bags at the grocery store:

Four-in-five felt single-use plastic ban was a good idea

While the federal government’s single-use plastic ban in its current form has been rejected by the Federal Court ruling, that doesn’t necessarily mean Canadians thought it was a bad idea. In early 2020 the Angus Reid Institute asked Canadians about just such an idea, finding majority support across all partisan groups and near unanimous support among past Liberal, NDP, and Bloc Québécois voters. Canadians throw away an estimate of more than three million tonnes of plastic waste each year.

Majority feel single-use ban effective way to reduce plastic waste

As the federal government readies its appeal, there are a majority who believe the single-use plastics ban is effective policy. A majority (56%) believe the ban reduces plastic waste, while two-in-five (41%) disagree. Men aged 35- to 54-years-old are the only demographic group to believe the ban is ineffective at its goal at a majority level:

Those who see ban as effective prefer government find another way to enforce

A plurality (42%) of those who believe the single-use plastic ban is effective say the government should find another way to ban them in the wake of the Federal Court ruling, while a further one-third (36%) want the government to fight for the ban in courts. A majority – but not all – of those who feel the single-use ban wasn’t effective want the federal government to abandon its appeal and end the ban:

Survey Methodology

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 24 – 28, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,439 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results by cross-tabulations, click here.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics for 2020 data, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.

To read the questionnaire, click here.

Image Credit – Photo 203304387 | Bags © Creative Cat Studio | Dreamstime.com

MEDIA CONTACT:

Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org @davekorzinski

Jon Roe, Research Associate: 825.437.1147 jon.roe@angusreid.org @thejonroe


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