Photo Credit: drugplastics.com

Government of Canada takes next steps forward on better plastic recyclability, compostability, and tracking


Monday, 25 July 2022 10:17.AM

Canadians are concerned about the impact of plastic waste and want concrete action to improve the recycling of plastics and prevent pollution. The Government of Canada is continuing to bring forward new measures to better manage plastic and move towards its goal of zero plastic waste by 2030.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, announced the next step in delivering on Canada's commitments on plastic waste and pollution by launching two consultations to:

1. Develop rules for recyclability and compostability labelling;
and
2. Establish a federal plastics registry for producers of plastic products.

New labelling rules would prohibit the use of the chasing-arrows symbol and other recyclability claims on plastic products unless at least 80 percent of Canadians have access to recycling systems that accept and have reliable end markets for these products. Without these features, plastic products cannot be reprocessed and reintroduced to the market as part of a circular economy. Labelling rules would also regulate the use of terms such as "compostable" and "biodegradable" on plastic products, requiring them to be certified by a third-party organization.

The new proposed regulations would also include rules requiring minimum levels of recycled plastic in certain products, on which the Government recently concluded consultations.

The goal is to improve plastic packaging design, inform consumer choices for the plastics they buy and how they use and dispose of them, and improve the performance of recycling systems to generate more and higher-quality recycled plastics. These measures will support both positive environmental and economic outcomes through reduced waste and pollution as well as new investments in innovation and recycling infrastructure.

The Government of Canada is also committed to developing a registry that would collect data on the life cycle of plastics in Canada. This registry would support the provinces and territories that are making plastic producers responsible for their plastic waste by requiring companies to report on the quantity of plastic products they place on the Canadian market and how these products are diverted from landfills at the end of their lives.

These consultations follow Canada's recent publication of regulations to ban harmful single‑use plastics, all of which are part of the Government's plan to reduce plastic pollution through a comprehensive approach that addresses the entire life cycle of plastics.

Until October 7, 2022, partners, stakeholders, and the public are invited to comment on the discussion papers for the development of labelling rules and the federal plastic registry. A draft regulatory text for labelling rules is targeted for publication as early as mid‑2023.

"Far too many plastics end up in our landfills, our waterways, on our streets, and in our environment. We must find a way to recirculate plastics in our economy. That means improving outcomes at each stage in the recycling process, and helping consumers understand labelling rules so that plastics are used multiple times. We also need better data collection, and rules for responsible producers that are consistent, comprehensive, and transparent. Together, these tools can help keep more plastic in the economy and out of the environment as we make measurable progress towards zero plastic waste."
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick facts

• In 2018, Canadians threw away 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 8 percent of which was recycled. The vast majority of plastic waste ends up in landfills, while about 1 percent—that is about 1 kilogram per person in Canada per year—ends up in the environment as plastic pollution.
• On June 22, 2022, the Government of Canada published the final Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Over the next decade, it is estimated that these regulations will eliminate over 1.3 million tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution, which is equivalent to over a million garbage bags full of litter.
• Moving toward a more circular economy for plastics could reduce carbon emissions by 1.8 megatonnes annually, generate billions of dollars in revenue, and create approximately 42,000 jobs by 2030.