Plastics and waste: appearance before the Standing Committee
Q. What is the Circular Economy and how is the Federal Government addressing the issue?
The circular economy seeks to maintain the value of materials, resources and products in the economy for as long as possible and minimize the generation of waste.
As an improved economic model that takes in the multiple facets of sustainability, the circular economy has the opportunity to address a number of government priorities as they relate to a greener economy.
- Recent studies also suggest that circular approaches also have positive climate change mitigation opportunities given that significant amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are related to materials management.
- As with our current work on reducing plastic waste, circular economy models provide us with another way to address the underlying causes of environmental pressures (e.g., consumption and production) through fully sustainable approaches to managing materials and energy flows.
Through our continuous engagement on the issue we know that a number of departments are looking to use circular approaches to advance solutions for files as diverse as agriculture, transportation, fisheries and economic development. We expect this trend to increase.
The circular economy is not a cure-all for our problems – but it has strong synergies with a number of files – and is a solutions-based proposition.
- With its associated positive economic and environmental opportunities, an increasing number of governments and businesses are promoting and working towards a CE, including in Canada.
- There are many ways to create a circular economy – in Canada and around the world – for products and materials that have traditionally been thrown away.
- Through better design and use of our valuable resources, a circular economy approach can help us reduce waste, and increase economic and business opportunities
The opportunities – and challenges – that a move to a more circular economy present can best be addressed together by collaboration by government, business and civil society.
- That is why Canada looks forward to hosting the World Circular Economy Forum 2020 (WCEF2020) with the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. The WCEF2020 will take place in Toronto, Canada from September 29 to October 1.
- Hosted in North America for the first time, the WCEF2020 will bring dynamic new voices to the global discussion, explore circular opportunities from the perspective of natural resource producing countries, and highlight the importance of the circular economy in addressing climate change.
International shipment of waste
Q. What is the Government of Canada doing to prevent the illegal shipment of waste to other countries?
- Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is actively working with the Canada Border Services Agency and Global Affairs Canada to prevent the illegal shipment of waste overseas and address outstanding cases. The Canada Border Services Agency assists ECCC in the administration of the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.
- ECCC is independently examining what policy and program changes could be implemented to most effectively help prevent the illegal shipment of waste overseas. ECCC continues to reach out to relevant stakeholders to clarify regulatory requirements with respect to waste exports.
- ECCC is taking action to promote compliance among Canadian exporters who are subject to Canadian regulations for exports of household waste. For example, to increase compliance with Canada's regulations, ECCC reached out to more than 100 exporters of recyclables and waste to Asian countries in the fall of 2019 to clarify requirements for exports of waste under domestic regulations.
Q. My colleague Scot Davidson introduced Bill C-204 which seeks to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to prohibit the export of certain types of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal. Will the government be supporting this bill?
- I’m certainly aware of Bill C-204 that was introduced in early February. My officials are currently in the process of reviewing the bill. The Government will likely reveal our position during second reading debate.
Q. What is the government doing to get to zero plastic waste? Will it ban single-use plastic products?
- We are steadfast to meet our commitment that we will ban harmful single-use plastics, where warranted and based on science, as early as 2021.
- The government’s comprehensive approach to meet its 2030 target of zero plastic waste continues to support actions, innovation and research by many partnering organisations, from businesses to communities.
- The work is addressing plastics from fishing gear, to packaging, to single-use plastics. It takes the form of pilot projects, standards development, reducing plastic waste from federal operations, and collaborating with the provinces and territories who play an important role in waste management.
- Work with these counterparts also includes developing guidance on how to harmonize and enhance existing programs so that the companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging are given full responsibility to collect and recycle them.
- We continue to build on our foundational economic knowledge as well, to know what may be needed to support future investments in innovation, technology and infrastructure.
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