How can Canada reduce plastic food packaging? Have your say now
August 1, 2023 – Gatineau, Quebec
Canadians are concerned about plastics littering beaches, parks, streets, shorelines, and other places they value. To address the environmental crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, there is a need to do business differently. That is why the Government of Canada is taking action to reduce plastic pollution through a comprehensive approach that addresses the entire lifecycle of plastics.
As part of its commitment to move toward zero plastic waste, the Government of Canada is proposing to develop a Pollution Prevention Planning Notice (P2 Notice) for plastic packaging that comes into direct contact with food, also referred to as primary food plastic packaging. The P2 Notice would require Canada’s largest grocery retailers to prepare and implement a pollution prevention plan to meet targets to reduce, reuse, and redesign primary food plastic packaging, including recycled content targets. This builds on efforts and commitments by grocers and food brands to reduce plastic waste and shift away from single-use and difficult-to-recycle plastics toward a circular economy.
Plastic food packaging makes up approximately one-third of all plastic packaging in Canada, with a significant amount of that intended for single use. Examples include bottles of juice, produce bags, yogurt containers, and meat trays.
This P2 Notice would contribute to the Government of Canada’s agenda to address plastic waste and prevent pollution by:
- Getting rid of unnecessary or problematic plastic packaging.
- Replacing single-use plastic packaging with reuse-refill systems.
- Making sure any plastic packaging used is designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted.
The P2 Notice would also include targets to increase the sale of products within reuse-refill systems, concentrated products, and products free of plastic packaging. Together, the P2 Notice and the proposed Recycled Content and Labelling for Plastic Products Regulations, which are targeted for publication before the end of 2023, would reduce the overall threat of harm posed by plastic items in the environment.
Until August 30, 2023, grocery retailers, stakeholders, interested partners, and Canadians are invited to comment on the consultation document for the development of the P2 Notice. Comments received will help develop a Proposed Notice to be published later this year.
“Plastics play an important role in the everyday lives of Canadians. However, a significant amount of plastic food packaging is used only once and then ends up in landfills as waste, or in the environment as pollution. The solution lies in the concerted action and combined efforts of all governments, industry (in this case, major grocery retailers), and Canadians. By getting rid of problematic plastic food packaging, replacing single-use packaging with reuse-refill systems, and ensuring that plastics, if needed, are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted, we can all help move Canada toward zero plastic waste.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
In 2019, Canadians threw away 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste, only nine percent of which was recycled. Plastic waste is a lost resource, and plastic pollution has harmful impacts on nature and wildlife.
Over the next decade, it is estimated that the Government of Canada’s Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations will eliminate over 1.3 million tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic waste and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution, which is equivalent to over a million garbage bags full of litter.
A Pollution Prevention (P2) Plan outlines how an organization will eliminate or reduce pollution at its source.
The P2 Notice builds on the Regulatory Framework Paper for Recycled Content and Labelling Rules for Plastics, released this spring. This Framework proposes to exempt primary food plastic packaging from recycled content requirements. The exemption is proposed due to food safety requirements under the Food and Drugs Act and its Regulations and the very limited supply and competing demands for food-grade recycled plastic resin.
A recent audit of large grocery stores across Canada (PDF) found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of products in select grocery sections (produce, baby food, pet food, and soup) were packaged in plastic intended for single use.
Single-use food and beverage packaging represented more than a quarter of the litter found on Canadian shorelines in 2020.
Canada continues to work with international partners on the negotiation of a new, ambitious, and legally binding international agreement on plastic pollution, which aims to end plastic pollution altogether. The fourth session of these negotiations will take place in Ottawa in April 2024.
- Share your thoughts: Development of a pollution prevention (P2) planning notice for primary food plastic packaging
- Developing Recycled Content and Labelling Rules for Plastics
- Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations—Overview
- Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Agenda
- Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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