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Plastics producers ask court to quash planned federal ban on single-use straws, cups

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OTTAWA — More than two dozen plastic makers are asking the Federal Court to put an end to Ottawa’s plan to ban several single-use plastic items but Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says he’s confident the attempt will fail.

Under regulations Guilbeault finalized in June, the ban is set to be phased in starting this December with an end to the manufacture, sale and import of takeout containers, stir sticks, retail carry-out bags, cutlery and most straws.

The six-pack rings used to package beverage cans and bottles together will be added to the ban for manufacturing and import in June 2023, and their sale banned in June 2024. Exports of all the products have to end in December 2025.

In a court filing July 15, a group of plastic makers calling itself the Responsible Plastic Use Coalition asked the Federal Court for a judicial review of the ban. It hopes to tear up the regulations enacting the ban and prevent the government from further regulating single-use plastics through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, or CEPA.

It is the second lawsuit brought by the coalition related to the government’s plastics ban. The first, filed in 2021, sought to overturn the government’s decision to list plastic pollution as “toxic” under CEPA. That lawsuit remains before the courts.

The toxic designation, which came in May 2021 after a scientific assessment of plastic waste, is needed for the government to ban substances believed to be harmful to human, animal or environmental health.

CEPA defines a substance as “toxic” if it can have “immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity.”

In its legal filing in the latest case, the coalition argues the government doesn’t have real evidence plastics are toxic.

“In fact there is no credible evidence that any of the (single-use plastics) are ‘toxic,’” the court document reads.

“Accordingly the ban cannot be justified as an exercise of the criminal law power conferred upon Parliament.”

The coalition asked the court to put the brakes on implementing any parts of the ban until the decision is made whether or not to kill it completely.

In a written statement, Guilbeault said the plastics coalition can do whatever it wants in court but that he thinks they’re going to lose.

“We’re going to stick to the facts, which show very clearly that plastic pollution is harming our environment and we need to act,” he said.

“And we’re confident the courts will agree with our position.”

The government’s scientific assessment published in 2020 concluded that plastic is “ubiquitous” in the environment, estimating about 29,000 tonnes of plastic waste ended up in the environment in 2016 alone.

“Since plastics degrade very slowly and are persistent in the environment, the frequency of occurrence of plastic pollution in the environment is expected to increase,” the assessment concluded.

The assessment said macroplastics, which are pieces bigger than five millimetres, can cause physical harm to natural areas. Animals frequently eat or become entangled in plastic waste, causing injury and death.

Turtles, whales and seabirds are among the most commonly affected. A dead baby turtle in Florida in 2019 was found to have more than 100 pieces of plastic in its stomach. In 2018 a dead sperm whale found in Indonesia had six kilograms of plastic garbage in its belly, including two flip-flops, plastic ropes, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags and 115 plastic cups.

However, the assessment said the impact of microplastics, pieces of broken down plastic items that are smaller than five millimetres, was less clear, with scientists divided about whether microplastics can kill people or animals, or cause developmental or reproductive problems.

“The current literature on the human health effects of microplastics is limited, although a concern for human health has not been identified at this time,” the assessment said.

It called for further research.

A 2019 Deloitte study found less than one-tenth of the plastic waste Canadians produce is recycled. That meant 3.3 million tonnes of plastic was being thrown out annually, almost half of it plastic packaging.

Federal data show that in 2019, 15.5 billion plastic grocery bags, 4.5 billion pieces of plastic cutlery, three billion stir sticks, 5.8 billion straws, 183 million six-pack rings and 805 million takeout containers were sold in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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US bear market deepens: What that means for you – Al Jazeera English

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United States stocks slumped further this week as investors navigated a barrage of bad news.

Central banks around the world have been scrambling to fight soaring high inflation by increasing the cost of borrowing without hurting long-term growth prospects. Adding to the uncertainty and fear are rising tensions between the West and Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the US, the S&P 500 – a proxy for the health of retirement and college savings accounts – this week fell to its lowest level in almost two years and was set for a monthly decline of nearly 8 percent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has dropped nearly 33 percent so far in 2022, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 20 percent while the world’s best-known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, shed nearly 60 percent of its value. Home prices are also dropping as interest rates soar, making loans for potential buyers more expensive.

The Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, is tasked with fighting the highest inflation in decades and has been doing that by raising interest rates. But can it increase the cost of capital to reduce demand and moderate prices without plunging the economy into a deep recession?

“It’s really a no-win situation at this point. Largely because of the number of shocks policymakers have had to deal with,” Cristian deRitis, leading economist at Moody’s, a research firm based in New York, explained to Al Jazeera.

How much further down can stocks go? What is a bear market exactly? And is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Here’s the short answer.

I keep hearing that the US is in a bear market. What is that exactly?

A bear market occurs when a broad market index dips more than 20 percent from recent highs.

Why is the US currently in a bear market?

“Persisting concerns over inflation and the Fed’s ability to tame prices without a hard landing,” is how Peter Essele, head of portfolio management at Commonwealth Financial Network, a Massachusetts-based firm, explained it.

What’s the reason behind the high inflation and why are prices out of control?

Kenneth McLaughlin, professor of economics at Hunter College in New York, told Al Jazeera that one of the reasons is the federal government “injecting $5 trillion into the economy including through stimulus checks during the pandemic with kind of good intentions but with no plans to pay for it.”

In other words?

Think back to early 2020 when businesses shuttered and economies came to a standstill to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Millions of Americans found themselves under lockdown with nowhere to go and spend the fresh-off-the-press stimulus checks. That caused equity prices, be it stocks, Bitcoin and home prices across the US, to skyrocket. It also caused a surge in demand for goods and that, as we see now, has led to the highest rise in the cost of living seen in decades.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S
The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia are expected to continue to spook investors and roil markets [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

How does this cause the stock market to go down?

As the Fed raises rates, which is essentially increasing the cost of borrowing in order to bring down the price of goods and services, people start to fear a slowdown in the economy. This pushes down the price of stocks and other investments.

Are the current economic conditions really just the consequence of what happened in the last 2 years?

The last two years have been unprecedented in many aspects. But what we are seeing today can also be attributed to the extremely low interest rates of the last decade when, following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the government made it cheaper for Americans to borrow, Essele told Al Jazeera.

Didn’t the markets just have a rally?

Stocks did experience a rally in August. Things were looking up when petrol prices, which had soared in earlier months, dropped sharply. Investors held on to the hope that perhaps the Fed would ease on the interest rate hikes if the inflation numbers for August showed that consumer prices had cooled. But despite cheaper petrol, food and other essential goods, prices remained high – surging 8.3 percent in August compared with a year earlier.

Where are we now?

“Inflation is becoming more structural and investors are now concerned about stagflation,” Essele explained to Al Jazeera, suggesting that price hikes may be here to stay for the long haul. Stagflation is a mashup of the words “inflation” and “stagnation” and refers to a situation when inflation is high even as the rate of economic growth slows down.

So what does the future hold? And how long will this bear market last?

Expect above-average price pressures. The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia add to the uncertainty and will continue to spook investors and roil markets.

“But we are likely in three-quarters of the way through the bear market,” Essele predicted.

I don’t own any stocks, why should I care about a bear market?

While stock investors are the ones most directly affected by a US bear market, there are spillover effects to the rest of the economy primarily due to the “wealth effect”. That is, as households see the value of their retirement and stock portfolios decline, they will pull back on their spending.

“Given how dependent the US economy is on consumer spending, this impact can be significant and widespread,” Moody’s deRitis told Al Jazeera. “Discretionary sectors such as travel, leisure, and hospitality may feel the most immediate effect but other industries such as housing and retail trade will experience reduced demand as households grow cautious.”

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Ontario Securities Commission files allegations of fraud in multimillion-dollar crypto offering – CP24

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TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission says it has filed allegations against Troy Richard James Hogg related to a crypto token offering that raised US$51 million.

The statement of allegations says that between May 2017 and June 2019, Hogg, an Ontario resident, promoted and sold a crypto asset named Dignity token, previously called Unity Ingot, to investors around the world.

The regulator alleges that Hogg and his companies – Cryptobontix Inc., Arbitrade Exchange Inc. and Arbitrade Ltd. – defrauded investors with false and misleading statements in promotional materials, including that gold bullion supported the value of the tokens.

The OSC alleges that Hogg and his companies further defrauded investors by spending a significant amount of invested funds on things unrelated to crypto security tokens, including buying real estate and making payments to companies controlled by Hogg.

The regulator also alleges that Hogg did not file a prospectus for the token or obtain the necessary registration with the OSC to engage in trading activities.

The OSC says it was assisted in its investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which ran a parallel investigation and has levelled charges against Hogg and several U.S. residents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2022.

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Lululemon settles lawsuit with Peloton over allegations of ‘copycat’ clothing

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Two of North America’s biggest names in fitness have settled a lawsuit over allegations of “copycat” sports bras and workout tights.

Vancouver-based “athleisure” brand Lululemon has agreed to terms with American exercise bike company Peloton after negotiating a “mutually agreeable settlement” in the patent dispute, according to a notice of voluntary dismissal filed in a California district court on Friday.

The terms of that agreement have not been made public.

Lululemon filed suit in November, claiming Peloton’s Strappy Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Legging, Cadent Laser Dot Bra, High Neck Bra, Cadent Peak Bra and One Luxe tights were all rip-offs of its own products.

“Unlike innovators such as Lululemon, Peloton did not spend the time, effort and expense to create an original product line,” the Lululemon claim read.

“Instead, Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knock-offs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own.”

Court documents show that the dispute dates back to a 2016 co-branding deal that allowed Peloton to put its logo alongside Lululemon’s on certain Lululemon products that were sold through Peloton stores.

In its own court filings, Peloton claimed the arrangement was “burdensome and time-intensive,” leading the company to end the partnership and develop “its own private label brand of fitness apparel.”

This image is included in a lawsuit filed by Lululemon against Peloton. Lululemon claimed the average customer would not be able to tell their products apart. (U.S. District Court)

Lululemon, in turn, claimed that Peloton had simply imitated some of its garments. The yoga wear firm sent Peloton a cease-and-desist letter on Nov. 11, 2021, asking the company to “immediately stop selling its copycat product.”

According to the Lululemon lawsuit, Peloton said it needed until Nov. 24 to respond to the accusations in the letter.

Instead, Peloton filed its own lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that Lululemon was making “baseless threats” and asking a judge to pre-emptively declare that Peloton had done nothing wrong.

News of the settlement in California comes just one day after a judge in New York dismissed Peloton’s lawsuit, ruling it “an improper anticipatory declaratory judgment action,” filed with the intention of beating Lululemon to the courthouse.

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