PAC Makes Recommendations to the Environment Standing Committee on Plastic Waste

Connector Spring 2019

PAC presented recommendations on plastic waste to the Federal Government Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on Plastic Waste in Ottawa, May 6, 2019. Results from a survey of PAC NEXT members taken during the May 4th, 2019 webinar on harmonization were also included in the presentation.

  1. Harmonization of standards across Canada is necessary and must be done at the federal level if Canada is to achieve its circular economy goals.
  2. Harmonization of recycling programs across Canada is necessary to reduce confusion of both packaging stewards and consumers. Without harmonization, it will be extremely difficult to improve participation and recovery.
  3. In order to achieve expectations under the circular economy, there needs to be clear definitions of key terms. Again, these terms need to be set and administered at the federal level to avoid any misinterpretation in implementation of programs or in packaging design.
  4. Although it was agreed that targets for performance in terms of diversion and recycled content are needed for Canada as a whole, it was clearly indicated that Canada, considering its economic size, should look to the standards of other jurisdictions including the EU when determining targets. The survey showed the majority of members believe that targets need to be set for capture rates for both residential and industrial, commercial and institutional sectors and also for recycled content in packaging if Canada is to significantly reduce waste to disposal and increase circularity of its products and packaging.
  5. The cost of disposal is inconsistent with the actual social cost. Look at financial mechanisms to encourage good behaviour, diversion and minimize the waste of valuable resources. Look to:
    – impose an added cost on disposal, e.g., landfill tax;
    – restrict out-of-country shipment of waste;
    – bans on recyclable material to disposal;
    – subsidize the cost to produce recycled content in recognition of the low cost for oil;
    – support the development of emerging diversion technologies, e.g., chemical recycling; and
    – expand and harmonize extended producer responsibility programs giving full control to stewards providing financial support to programs.
  6. Banning single use plastics can meet with unintended consequences. If there are to be bans, ensure that there are viable alternatives and the unintended consequences of the bans do not result in poorer environmental performance for Canada.

For further survey details, see http://www.pac.ca/Programs/Next/Documents/waste-committee-takeaways.pdf

Source: PAC Packaging Consortium