Legal Battle: Animal Justice Back in Court to Challenge Animal-Killing Plastic Pollution

Animal Justice is appearing before the Federal Court of Appeal this week to challenge a court decision that favours the plastics industry and undermines Canada’s efforts to regulate plastic products under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The lives of millions of animals harmed and killed by plastic pollution each year are at stake.

In 2021, the federal government classified “plastic manufactured items” as toxic under CEPA—Canada’s keystone environmental law—allowing a ban on single-use plastics like shopping bags, six-pack rings, and stir sticks. This decision also laid the framework so Canada could tackle other forms of plastic pollution in the future, such as ghost fishing gear—durable plastics like fishing nets, ropes, line, traps, and other fishing equipment that make up the vast majority of large plastic pollution in the ocean. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 1 million tons of fishing gear enter the ocean every year, continuing to entangle and kill animals for decades.

The plastic industry challenged the lawfulness of the federal government’s efforts which the Federal Court ultimately agreed with, finding them unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The government is appealing the Federal Court decision, and earlier this year, Animal Justice and Animal Environmental Legal Advocacy were granted joint intervenor status in the case—allowing them to speak on behalf of the millions of animals harmed by plastic waste annually. 

Animal Justice is urging the Court to consider the millions of animals who suffer and die as victims of unnecessary, improperly discarded plastic products, and recognize the far-reaching effects this appeal will have on Canada’s fight to address the global plastic crisis.

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