A group of more than 60 major American industry associations are trying to stop Canada’s efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

In a letter to Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng, the group threatened to use novel provisions in the new NAFTA agreement (CUSMA) to delay proposed plastics legislation. The letter was sent as a warning salvo in September, about a month before Canada announced detailed plans for its new legislation.

Canada’s proposed laws will ban some single-use plastics, list plastic as a toxic substance and force companies to take more responsibility for their products’ disposal. Details of the changes were announced in late October and include a ban on some single-use plastics, such as straws and shopping bags.

This is the first time American corporations have threatened to use CUSMA to push back against a proposed Canadian law, and observers say it won’t be the last. The trade deal, which came into force in July, introduced new provisions that allow countries to sue their trading partners for new domestic regulations that cut into the profits of existing industries.

According to the organizations, the proposed ban on certain single-use plastics would amount to a “non-tariff barrier” impacting more than $12.1 billion in U.S. exports to Canada.

Those rules could pose major hurdles to the development of badly needed environmental policies as Canada responds to climate change, pollution and other major issues.

Canada’s proposed plan was released in the wake of a scientific review and recommended listing plastic as toxic under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act. It would require plastics sold in Canada to contain at least 50 per cent recycled content by 2030 and improve Canada’s plastic recycling system.

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