Government Of Canada Takes Next Steps Forward On Better Plastic Recyclability, Compostability And Tracking

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Photo courtesy of Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada

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.

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.

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