The Government of Canada is taking steps to address plastic waste and pollution from the textile and apparel sector

News release

July 4, 2024 – Gatineau, Quebec

Textiles is the fifth-largest category of plastic waste sent to landfills in Canada. Furthermore, through regular wear and tear and when washed, synthetic clothing sheds plastic microfibres—tiny thread-like fibres that become microplastic pollution. As part of its comprehensive plan to reduce plastic waste and pollution, the Government of Canada is looking for ways to increase the circularity of the textile and apparel sector to keep these materials in the economy and out of the environment.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, launched a consultation to solicit feedback on the development of a roadmap to address plastic waste and pollution from the textile and apparel sector.

Building on the early interest and engagement from key stakeholders in the sector, the consultation document suggests a waste-management approach that keeps textiles and apparel in the circular economy for as long as possible. Prioritization will focus on the redesign, reduction, reuse, repair, and recycling of products over energy recovery and landfilling.

Until September 1, 2024, Canadians and interested parties are invited to comment on the consultation document and provide feedback. Comments received will help develop the draft roadmap to be published later this year.

Quotes

“After welcoming the world last April in Ottawa for the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, we are more committed than ever to ending plastic waste and pollution in our own country. We are now reflecting on how we can prevent textile and apparel waste from going to landfill, being incinerated, or leaking into the environment as pollution. Addressing plastic waste and pollution in all sectors of our economy is the key to protecting the planet and creating a greener and prosperous future, while keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick facts

  • Globally, about 80 billion new pieces of clothing are made each year—this is 400 percent more than 20 years ago. Synthetic fibres, such as polyester, represent around 54 percent of the world’s fibre production.

  • In Canada, there is currently very limited collection and recycling of textiles, and approximately 98 percent of plastic textile waste ends up in landfills. In addition, about 878 tonnes of microfibres are released from synthetic textiles during laundering into fresh and marine waters in Canada and the United States annually.

  • According to Statistics Canada’s Physical Flow Account for Plastic Material, around 290 kilotons of synthetic textile products (for example, made of polyester, nylon, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and/or acrylic) were purchased in Canada in 2020. In that same year, around 280 kilotons were discarded as waste.

  • Since 2018, the Government of Canada has been working with and supported organizations and key stakeholders to advance research on microfibre pollution, assess and identify challenges and opportunities to reduce waste, and pilot recycling and waste diversion programs in the textile and apparel sector.

  • Canada’s Federal Plastics Registry will collect data on plastics in textiles, including quantities of textiles placed on the market and their end-of-life management.

  • Working with the textile and apparel sector to develop and implement targeted solutions is an important part of Canada’s ambitious, evidence-based, and comprehensive plan to reduce plastic waste and pollution and move toward a circular economy for plastics through a range of complementary actions across the plastics lifecycle.

Associated links

Contacts

Kaitlin Power
Senior Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-230-1557
Kaitlin.Power@ec.gc.ca

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
media@ec.gc.ca

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s X (Twitter) page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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