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Federal Government Announces Next Steps to Achieve Zero Plastic Waste & Ban Harmful Single-Use Plastic Items

Published on
October 7, 2020

Minister of Environment & Climate Change, the Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, alongside Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Steven Guilbeault, announced the Government’s next steps in its plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030 and fulfil its commitment to ban harmful single-use plastics.

The plan is outlined in the following discussion paper: A Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution.

The Government conducted a science assessment of plastic pollution to establish the scope of single-use plastics considered harmful. The study determined six single-use plastic items meet the requirements for a ban, namely those “where there is evidence that they are found in the environment, are often not recycled, and have readily available alternatives.” The list includes:

  • Plastic checkout bags
  • Straws
  • Stir sticks
  • Six-pack rings
  • Cutlery
  • Food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

The products will be banned via regulatory instruments using the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) by the end of 2021.

Minister Wilkinson noted that the ban on harmful single-use plastics will not impact access to PPE, which is a concern raised by a number of stakeholders in the lead-up to the announcement.

Additional Measures:

The discussion paper proposes two additional measures, namely:

  • Establishing Performance Standards: The federal government will establish environmental performance standards via regulation, using CEPA, that will include recycled content requirements, rules for measuring and reporting, and technical guidance for plastic products to reduce (or eliminate) their environmental impact and stimulate demand for recycled plastics, and;
  • Ensuring End-of-Life Responsibility: The federal government will work with provinces, territories, and industry to improve and expand extended producer responsibility through consistent, comprehensive, and transparent policies for plastics, so that companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging are responsible for collecting and recycling them.

The federal government will be working with provinces and territories on these initiatives through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and through the implementation of the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste and its Action Plans.

Next Steps:

On October 10, the Government of Canada will publish a proposed Order to add “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 of CEPA. This is a necessary regulatory step to banning the six single-use plastic products deemed harmful.

The Government is accepting comments from Canadians and interested stakeholders on the discussion paper until December 9, 2020.

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