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Canada plans to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030

Yesterday, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, alongside Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, announced the next steps in the Government of Canada's plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. Further details are on the Government’s website, and here are highlights from the news conference:

ECCC published two important documents: a discussion paper describing its proposed plan: Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution, and its final Scientific Assessment of Plastic Pollution. Minister Wilkinson said there will be a two-month period for conversation about the plan, and regulation by the end of 2021.

The Minister clearly acknowledged the value plastics provide to Canadians, and a key message he delivered is the aim for plastics to be “in the economy, and out of the environment”. He stressed that this is a comprehensive plan, one part of which is the 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”.

Minister Wilkinson explained that Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) provides a way for the Government to regulate substances that, while harmful to the environment, are not necessarily toxic in the strict sense of the term. He expressed willingness to discuss with industry the appropriate nomenclature to be used in the regulation.

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. The Government has also set a 50% recycled content target in plastic products by 2030, and intends on working with the provinces, territories, and industry to advance extended producer responsibility (EPR) to be consistent, comprehensive, and transparent nationally.

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