A Summary of Announcements on Plastics – June 2019

Dear Members and Colleagues,

Continuing with the trend of the past year, plastics have been in the spotlight this month. The information here provides a high-level summary of what’s been released and what it means for plastic reduction and recycling efforts across Canada. We share links to the reports below for those who wish to delve further into the topic.

Announcements started June 10 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sharing the government’s plan to ban harmful single-use plastics and hold companies responsible for plastic waste. The announcement promised waste reduction through the action to:

  • ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks) where supported by scientific evidence and warranted and take other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging.
  • work with provinces and territories to introduce standards and targets for companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging so they become responsible for their plastic waste.

Further details of this plan are still to be shared, though the full announcement from the government can be found here: https://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2019/06/10/canada-ban-harmful-single-use-plastics-and-hold-companies-responsible-plastic-waste

The Last Straw

Earlier in the month, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development released a report to the House of Commons titled, The Last Straw: Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution in Canada. This is a comprehensive report that consulted expert organizations and individuals from across Canada in making its recommendations. The report outlines past and present action to reduce plastic pollution in the country. It focuses on the economic challenges, such as the discrepancy in cost between virgin and recycled plastic resin and market demands for material to drive recycling. To adjust this discrepancy, the report recommends removing subsidies on fossil fuels used by virgin resin manufacturers and adding requirements for use of recycled content in manufacturing. Pollution reduction is a focus along with human health and ecological concerns. The report then delves into possible solutions:

  • Investing in knowledge and innovation
  • Education and engagement to change behaviour
  • Leading through Federal Government operations and procurement
  • Banning some plastics or some plastic additives
  • Setting Performance Standards
  • Standardization and harmonization
  • Making producers fully responsible for their products (EPR)
  • Modernizing plastic waste management infrastructure

The report shares the following recommendations:

  • There is a need for coordinated action
  • Plastic toxicity should be assessed through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
  • Standardization is key to increasing plastic recycling
  • Fostering recycling
  • Funding is required to foster innovation to modernize recycling
  • Canadians need better information to be fully engaged
  • The Federal Government can set an example through its procurement

The report can be found here: https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/ENVI/report-21

CCME

As June came to a close, the Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment (CCME) shared a report, outlining the first phase of the action plan (Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste, Phase 1) stemming from eight months of research and stakeholder engagement and building from the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.

The plan targets six key priorities, not significantly different from those listed in the report above, and lists next steps and deadlines for moving ahead on deliverables:

  1. Facilitate consistent Extended Producer Responsibility programs
  2. Address priority single-use and disposable products
  3. National performance requirements and standards
  4. Incentives for a circular economy
  5. Infrastructure and innovation investments
  6. Public procurement and green operations

CCME announcement and link to the report: https://www.ccme.ca/en/whats_new/article.html?id=111

We will continue to keep you informed as these strategies advance and as always, want to hear from you on how this impacts your business or any questions you may have.