The plan will protect wildlife and our waters, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs.
A key part of the plan is a ban on harmful single-use plastic items where there is evidence that they are found in the environment, are often not recycled, and have readily available alternatives. Based on those criteria, the six items the Government proposes to ban are plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.
This list of items was published today in the discussion paper Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution. This plan also proposes improvements to recover and recycle plastic, so it stays in our economy and out of the environment. The Government of Canada is proposing to establish recycled content requirements in products and packaging. This will drive investment in recycling infrastructure and spur innovation in technology and product design to extend the life of plastic materials.
The Government wants to hear from Canadians and stakeholders on this approach to protect the environment from plastic pollution and reduce waste through a more circular economy. Comments will be accepted until December 9, 2020. Regulations will be finalized by the end of 2021.
The Government of Canada is collaborating with provinces and territories through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Together, all federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste that lays out a vision for a circular economy for plastics, as well as a two-phase action plan that is being jointly implemented. Provinces, territories, and municipalities are leaders in the recovery and recycling of plastic waste. The Government of Canada is continuing to work with them to strengthen existing programs and increase Canada’s capacity to reuse and recover more plastics. This will include collaborating with them to develop pan-Canadian targets to ensure that rules are consistent and transparent across the country, and make producers and sellers of plastic products responsible for collecting them.
Minister Wilkinson also took the opportunity to announce over $2M through the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative for 14 new Canadian-led plastic reduction initiatives. These projects are led by communities, organizations, and institutions, and will promote the development of new and innovative solutions to prevent, capture and remove plastic pollution from the environment.
By improving how we manage plastic waste and investing in innovative solutions, we can reduce 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year and create approximately 42,000 jobs across the country.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of Canadians is our highest priority. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has played an important role in keeping Canadians safe, particularly our frontline health care workers. The ban on harmful single-use plastics will not impact access to PPE. The Government of Canada is also working with the provinces and territories, through the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers (CCME), and with the private sector to keep PPE out of our environment.
“Canadians see the effects of plastic pollution in their communities and waterways and they expect the Government to take action. Our Government is introducing a comprehensive plan to get to zero plastic waste. Our plan embraces the transition towards a circular economy, recycled-content standards and targets for recycling rates. We also intend to ban plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and hard-to-recycle take out containers. These items are harmful to our environment and their value is lost from the economy when they are tossed in the trash. This proposed ban will help drive innovation across the country as new and easier to recycle items take their place in our economy.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
On October 10, the Government of Canada will also publish a proposed Order to add “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). This is a necessary regulatory step to managing plastic products.
CEPA is one of the Government’s principal laws for preventing pollution and protecting the environment. CEPA includes tools to address plastic pollution at different stages of the lifecycle of plastic manufactured items, such as manufacture, import, sale, use and disposal.
The final Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution, which was also published today, evaluates the state of the science and looks at the presence and effects of plastic pollution on the environment and human health. It confirms that plastic pollution is everywhere and is negatively impacting our environment.
In July 2020, the second and final phase of the Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste was released. The Plan outlines timelines for tangible, coordinated action to: improve consumer, business and institution awareness; reduce waste and pollution from aquatic activities including fishing and aquaculture; advance science; support prevention, capture, and clean-up of plastic pollution; and contribute to global action.
In Canada, single-use plastics make up most of plastic litter that is found in freshwater environments.
In Canada, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily.
Over 35 countries around the world have already taken action by banning certain single use plastics, including U.K., France, Italy.