Maintaining Food Security in Canada is Key when Reducing Plastics

Published Sep 19, 2023
Last updated 59 minutes ago
3 minute read

Banning Plastics from Grocery Stores: Unforeseen Repercussions on Food Security

Plastic undoubtedly remains a significant environmental concern and there is a widespread consensus that it demands immediate attention.

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Plastic Packaging in the Grocery Store Sector

While addressing plastic bags and utensils presents relatively straightforward challenges, the real dilemma lies in addressing plastic packaging, particularly within the grocery store sector.

The Pollution Prevention Planning Notice (P2)

This summer, the Canadian government introduced the Pollution Prevention Planning Notice (P2), a targeted initiative aimed at primary food plastic packaging used for food. P2 seeks to compel Canada’s largest grocery retailers to formulate pollution prevention strategies with a focus on reducing, reusing and reimagining primary food plastic packaging with a strong emphasis on incorporating recycled materials. Kudos to the government for taking this vital step.

Potential Repercussions on Food Security and Access

A striking statistic reveals that roughly a third of all plastic packaging in Canada pertains to grocery store food packaging, much of which is designed for single-use purposes. From juice boxes and produce bags to yogurt containers and meat trays, the sheer ubiquity of such packaging necessitates immediate action.

However, recent developments indicate a notable shift in the approach’s tone as the industry’s commendable efforts to reduce plastics are seemingly undervalued. The federal department appears to remain impervious to reasoning beyond ideology and seems to overlook the potential consequences of hastily pursuing plastic elimination, effectively sidelining science-based policymaking. The ramifications of P2 could be profound for our access to fresh produce.

Impact on Food Prices

In essence, the elimination of plastics could inadvertently impact food prices at retail. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s most significant oversight appears to be its failure to consider the unique logistical and trade realities of Canada. It seems that the department is primarily influenced by ideas drawn from European studies. However, it’s crucial to note that in the U.K., for example, a far greater proportion of fresh produce sales are prepackaged compared to Canada. Less frequently mentioned is the fact that even these changes would lead to increased labour requirements, higher operational costs and other forms of pollution, such as supply-chain emissions. More comprehensive data and a thorough scientific evaluation of the consequences are unquestionably required.


There is no denying the urgency of eliminating plastics from grocery stores. However, it is equally vital to understand the potential repercussions of such actions. Currently, it appears that Environment and Climate Change Canada is indifferent to the future blame that may be solely directed at the food industry for higher food prices when it was the implementation of the department’s policies that contributed to this outcome. And the department is fully aware it can evade accountability. A more nuanced approach is undoubtedly warranted – one that adeptly balances environmental objectives with the economic and logistical realities of Canada’s food industry.

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