Technical paper: Federal Plastics Registry

1. Introduction

This document outlines the technical details and reporting requirements being considered for the Federal Plastics Registry. The document has taken into account the significant feedback received from partners, stakeholders and the public during consultations. A draft section 46 notice under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is targeted for publication in Canada Gazette, Part I, before the end of 2023, which will be followed by a further consultation period before the instrument is finalized. Partners and stakeholders are invited to review this document and provide feedback before May 18, 2023.

1.1 Background

Canadians are concerned about the impact of plastic waste and want concrete action to improve the recycling of plastics and prevent pollution. The Government of Canada is continuing to bring forward new measures to better manage plastic and move towards its goal of zero plastic waste.Footnote 1

On July 25, 2022, the government published a consultation paper that outlined a proposed approach to establishing a federal plastics registry. This was followed by a consultation period that ended October 7, 2022. The government received over 80 written submissions from a diverse range of partners and stakeholders. More information on how the government consulted, and what was heard, can be found in the What we heard report published on the government’s website.

1.1.1 Why a federal plastics registry is needed

The registry will serve to improve our knowledge of plastic waste, value recovery, and pollution across Canada. It will provide important information to inform the government on future compliance promotion and enforcement activities and will help to identify gaps in the plastics value chain where further government action may be required. The registry would be a key source of information that the Government of Canada will use to support the implementation and monitoring of different measures that are part of the government’s zero plastic waste agenda. A federal plastic registry would standardize the data that is collected on provincial and territorial Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs and provide useful information for stakeholders, government and Canadians. Furthermore, it will support provincial and territorial EPR programs in force or under development, and provide useful baseline data to provinces and territories when expanding EPR into new product categories.

Currently, data requirements for information collected for EPR programs are inconsistent across Canada. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions have different requirements for how performance should be measured, as well as inconsistent tracking and reporting processes. This means EPR programs cannot be compared or verified between jurisdictions or product categories, limiting the ability to measure the performance of EPR across the country. This problem is not limited to one part of Canada, or even to Canada as a whole. For example, some major studies in Canada and internationallyFootnote 2 have been unable to quantify either the extent to which EPR improves recycling rates or how different models of EPR compare to one another. A key function of the registry would be to make EPR data open and accessible to all Canadians, including researchers.

2. Parties obligated to report

The following parties would be required to report to the registry.

2.1 Provincial and territorial definitions of a producer

Each province and territory that has an EPR program in force has its own definition of a producer. During consultations, the government heard that producers subject to provincial and territorial EPR programs can be defined differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, depending on the factors listed below:

These variations, on the definition of producer will still allow the total amount of plastic placed on the market, at the provincial or territorial level to be captured in the registry.

2.2 Aligning a national producer definition with provincial and territorial definitions

A situation where different producers are required to report the same data points to provincial/territorial and federal governments should be avoided wherever possible. The Government of Canada is therefore proposing to use a generic definition of “producer” only where a provincial or territorial definition does not exist. In a jurisdiction that has a definition of producer, that definition would continue to apply.

2.2.1 Federal producer definition

The proposed federal producer definition is outlined as follows:

The federal producer definition would also allow a company to voluntarily assume the reporting obligations of others. For example, a national brand owner may wish to report on their products in place of local distributors or retailers.

Text box 1: Example of how a federal producer definition should apply.

If a grocer carries their own brand of pasta in plastic packaging, that grocer would be defined as the producer. If the grocer carries a brand of pasta bought from a distributor in Canada, that distributor would be defined as the producer. If a grocer carries a brand of pasta imported directly by the grocer from Italy, that grocer would be defined as the producer.

2.2.2 Small businesses

Many provincial and territorial EPR policies provide exemptions for small businesses that fall under a certain threshold related to gross annual revenue (for example, $1 million), tonnage placed on the market (fore example, 1 tonne) or other criteria (for example, number of retail storefronts).

The Government of Canada must seek to balance the goals of reducing duplication or conflict with provincial and territorial rules, and reducing the administrative burden on businesses, with the goal of improving our understanding of plastics data across Canada.

Small businesses that are exempted under provincial and territorial EPR policies would be subject to special rules that would minimize their administrative burden and take into account the following:

The special rules for small businesses can be found in sections 3.1 and 3.5.

2.3 Reporting by parties other than producers

Many producers discharge their obligations under existing provincial and territorial EPR policies by jointly retaining PROs to operate EPR programs. These organizations are often experts in registering producers, overseeing waste diversion systems, collecting data from a range of stakeholders and reporting to provincial or territorial governments. PROs are not clearly defined in all jurisdictions in Canada. Where such definitions exist, they generally deal with the relationship between the producer and the PRO, or the PRO’s function within an EPR program. In some jurisdictions, PROs must be registered in order to operate. Under the proposed federal framework, a PRO would be defined as an organization that producers can retain or join to fulfill their EPR obligations.

While all producers would be ultimately accountable for making reports to the registry and ensuring their accuracy, producers would be able to rely on PROs as follows (see figure 1):

2.3.1 Other service providers

Entities other than producers and PROs often manage downstream goods and recover value from large quantities of plastics. Examples include automotive recyclers and retailers of second-hand clothing and household goods. Many such service providers play an important part in keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment. They may be better placed than producers and PROs to report on plastics reused, repaired, remanufactured, refurbished, or recovered for energy. Incorporating information from these service providers into the plastics registry would provide a more complete picture of the flow of plastics in Canada. Reporting could be voluntarily or these service providers could be required to register and prepare themselves to report in the future; or they could be required to register and report using the same timelines as producers and PROs.

2.4 Reporting process flowchart

To better help producers understand the reporting process, including all possible delegates, we have created the flowchart below (figure 1).

Figure 1: reporting flowchart

Figure 1: reporting flowchart
Long description of figure 1

Figure 1 is a flowchart explaining the reporting process to the registry. The identified obligated producer who must report to the registry is the provincial or territorial definition of a producer or the federal definition of a producer. Then the producer can either complete data collection, processing and reporting themselves or it can be delegated to the producer responsibility organization. The annual reporting data is then prepared per province and territory and is submitted to the registry. The federal registry links data received to each obligated producer, additional data that is not linked to the individual producers are other service providers and other voluntary reporters. The government will then analyze and prepare the data. The public receives the aggregated data that is open and accessible and provinces and territories receive granular data via secure channels.

2.5 Reportable administrative information

The following information would be required from producers in the registry when they register on the new reporting platform:

PROs would be expected to provide similar information including their address, names of authorized representatives and a list of producers that they represent.

2.6 The keeping of records

A person that is required to keep records must keep the records of their reporting activity to the registry at their principal place of business in Canada or at any other place in Canada where they can be inspected, for at least 3 years after the date on which they are made. If the records are not kept at the person’s principal place of business, the person must provide the Minister with the civic address of the place where they are kept. If the records are moved, the person must notify the Minister in writing of the civic address in Canada of the new location within 30 days after the day of the move.

3. Data to report

The registry will seek the following data points from producers of plastic products within each category. These requirements will be phased in and details are presented in section 5 Phased implementation approach.

Table 1: data points to collect
Data points Data point
(in tonnes, per calendar year)
Upstream data point Plastics placed on the market The total amount of plastic in products within a given category placed on the Canadian market.
Downstream data points Plastics collected for diversion The total amount of plastic collected and recycled by an EPR program and sent to a sorting facility for diversion.
Downstream data points Plastics successfully reused The total amount of plastic collected for reuse and sold on to secondary markets to be used again without intensive repair, remanufacture, refurbishment, or recycling whether for its original purpose or to fulfill a different function.
Downstream data points Plastics successfully repaired, remanufactured or refurbished The total amount of plastic collected for diversion and either sold on to secondary markets or returned to the original equipment manufacturer for repair, remanufacturing or refurbishment via intensive, standardized industrial processes that provide an opportunity to add value and utility to a product’s service life.
Downstream data points Plastics successfully recycled

The total amount of plastic collected for diversion, and treated by some or any of the following processes:

  1. conventional mechanical activities that separate, grind and heat products to produce plastic feedstocks or resins, composting and digestion of some plant-based plastic-like materials to produce soil amendments
  2. chemical or thermal processes such as depolymerization, pyrolysis or gasification that convert plastics into monomers or petroleum products (for example, methanol, diesel)
Downstream data points Plastics incinerated for energy recovery The total amount of plastic collected for diversion and recovered for energy recovery (for example engineered fuel, mass burn).
Downstream data points Plastics imported, exported The total amount of plastic waste imported or exported for recycling or final disposal.
Downstream data points Plastics sent to landfill The total amount of plastic waste sent to final disposal.

a Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, “Guidance to Facilitate Consistent Extended Producer Responsibility Policies and Programs for Plastics,” pp. 18-19.

The table provides data points to be collected from producers of plastic products within each category. There is an upstream data point which is plastics placed on the market. The following downstream data points are sought to be collected: plastics collected for diversion, plastics successfully reused, plastics successfully repaired, remanufactured or refurbished, plastics successfully recycled, plastics incinerated for energy recovery, plastics imported, exporter, and plastics sent to landfill.

Guidance will be provided to assist with reporting, as outlined in section 3.5 Calculating data points. In addition to the above data points, the registry would require that producers provide the following information for each upstream and downstream data point:

3.1 Rules for small businesses

As discussed above in section 2.2.2, small businesses are often exempted from EPR policies and so they may not be able to rely on PROs to provide data points on downstream outcomes. As a result, the Federal Plastics Registry would only require businesses exempted under a provincial or territorial EPR policy to report on plastics placed on the market. This information would significantly improve the accuracy of EPR data across Canada. This is because when this data is not collected at the provincial or territorial level, key performance indicators such as recycling rates are inevitably skewed, as the tonnage collected or recycled (which includes tonnage produced by small businesses) is divided by tonnage placed on the market (which excludes tonnage produced by small businesses).

3.2 Residential versus industrial, commercial and institutional sources of plastic waste

For some product categories, provincial and territorial EPR policies do not currently apply to all sources of plastic waste. For example, EPR policies for packaging typically only apply to residential waste, excluding many or all sources of ICI sources of plastic waste. ICI sources form a significant percentage of plastic waste created in Canada every year. One study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) estimated that ICI sources made up 50% of all plastic waste generated in 2016 (55% if construction waste was included).Footnote 4 Statistics Canada data shows that ICI sources made up 58% of all waste (including plastics) in 2018.Footnote 5

To help build a comprehensive understanding of plastics across Canada and fill key data gaps, the Federal Plastics Registry will require that producers report on ICI sources of plastic waste for all product categories described in this document.

3.3 Resin types

Plastic resins are the raw materials used to produce plastic products. While many Canadians may be aware of some of the more common plastic resins, there are many more plastic resins that producers can use as feedstock to produce plastic products. Statistics Canada’s (StatCan) Pilot physical flow account for plastic material, 2012 to 2019, groups all these resins into 19 distinct resin groups or types, which are listed below.Footnote 6 The Government of Canada will require that producers indicate all of the StatCan resin types that are used in the plastic products they place on the market. Where more than one resin is used in the manufacture of a product, all known resins must be reported.

  1. acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resins
  2. all other formaldehyde based resins
  3. all other thermoplastic resins
  4. high-density polyethylene resins
  5. linear low-density polyethylene resins
  6. low-density polyethylene resins
  7. multilayer/multimaterial
  8. other polyethylene resins
  9. other thermoplastic polyester resins
  10. phenolic resins
  11. polyamide (nylon) resins
  12. polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resins
  13. polypropylene resins
  14. polystyrene resins
  15. polyvinyl chloride resins
  16. thermoplastic polyurethane resins
  17. thermosetting polyurethane resins
  18. unsaturated polyester (thermosetting) resins
  19. urea formaldehyde resins

3.4 Categories and subcategories

During consultations, the Government of Canada heard from many stakeholders that the categories and subcategories of plastic products should be well defined and aligned with provincial and territorial EPR program definitions (where those definitions exist). However, EPR program definitions vary between provinces and territories. Therefore the federal plastics registry would use categories and subcategories to ensure harmonization and consistency across the country. Alignment with the provinces and territories will be crucial to reduce the administrative and reporting burden for producers and their authorized agents.

The government has considered this feedback and has modelled the registry’s subcategories to align with provincial and territorial EPR programs, where possible, and the Guidance to Facilitate Consistent Extended Producer Responsibility Policies and Programs for Plastics by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. In addition, the registry’s subcategories will align with the packaging and product categories subject to the proposed Recycled Content & Labelling for Plastic Products Regulations.

3.4.1 Category: packaging

The Government of Canada will use the following sub-categories for the plastic packaging and single-use plastic product category:

  1. rigid - beverage container
  2. rigid - non-beverage
  3. rigid - single-use plastics
  4. flexible - beverage container
  5. flexible - non-beverage
  6. flexible - single-use plastics

3.4.2 Category: electronics and electrical equipment

The Government of Canada will use the following sub-categories for the electronics and electrical equipment plastic product category:

  1. information technology equipment
  2. telecommunications equipment
  3. audio-visual equipment
  4. tools
  5. lighting equipment, parts, bulbs and signs
  6. sports equipment
  7. toys
  8. art, hobby and craft equipment and decorations
  9. automatic dispensers
  10. measuring, monitoring, navigation and control instruments
  11. medical devices, excluding implanted or infected devices
  12. accessories, including cables, adaptors, cords and chargers

3.4.3 Category: construction

The Government of Canada will use the following sub-categories for the construction plastics category:

  1. windows and doors
  2. flooring
  3. film products
  4. insulation
  5. paints and coatings
  6. piping
  7. roofing materials
  8. siding

3.4.4 Category: automotive

The Government of Canada will use the following sub-categories for the automotive plastics category:

  1. motorcycles
  2. multi-purpose passenger vehicles
  3. passenger vehicles
  4. snowmobiles
  5. trailers
  6. trucks
  7. buses

3.4.5 Category: white goods

The Government of Canada will use the following sub-categories for the white goods plastic product category:

  1. refrigeration or freezing
  2. temperature or humidity control
  3. air or water purification
  4. cooking or preparing food
  5. washing or drying dishes or textiles
  6. use of suction, pressure or water to clean surfaces or materials

3.4.6 Category: agriculture

The Government of Canada will use the following sub-categories for the agricultural plastics category:

  1. containers
  2. totes and drums
  3. bags and large tote bags
  4. twine
  5. bale wrap
  6. grain bags
  7. silage film

3.4.7 Category: textiles

The Government of Canada will use the following sub-categories for the textile plastics category:

  1. clothing
  2. interior textiles
  3. footwear

3.5 Calculating data points

This section provides an overview of the different methods for calculating the quantity of upstream and downstream data points.

3.5.1 Calculating plastics placed on the market

Different EPR policies and programs across Canada use different methods for calculating the quantity of plastics placed on the market. These methods may reflect issues specific to certain sectors, supply chain models, and product designs. For example, it may be more difficult to calculate plastics in more complex products such as electronics.

Nonetheless, the Federal Plastics Registry is intended to help create as accurate a picture as possible of Canada’s plastics economy. As a result, the government proposes to establish a hierarchy of methods for calculating plastics placed on the market, in descending order of accuracy:

  1. specific component identification method
  2. average bill of materials method
  3. fixed-factor calculator method

A description of each of these methods can be found in sections to These methods will allow producers to calculate plastics placed on the market in each province and territory. The Government of Canada will combine the data from all the provinces and territories to determine the total amount of plastics placed on the Canadian market.

If a producer does not have reasonable access to the data required to allow for reporting using a method higher on the hierarchy, they would be permitted to use the next method, and so on. For example, a company that collects data on plastics in their products or packaging would be required to report that data, but if that data was not reasonably available, the company could use an average bill of materials method. Only if that method was not feasible could the company submit data using a fixed-factor calculator method.

Regardless of method used, the Federal Plastics Registry would require reporting based on weight. Only weight-based data allows the flow of material to be tracked at each stage in its lifecycle, from the point at which it is placed on the market to its ultimate fate at end of life. Specific component identification method

The specific identification method uses actual weights of the plastic components to report, and is considered the preferred method for reporting plastics data. Producers would need to: (1) obtain plastic data and weight, if the information is known for each plastic component, and (2) physically evaluate their product and weigh each different plastic component to determine the total amount of plastic. The calculation is as follows:

(C) = A x B

“A” is the total number of plastic products sold in a province or territory. “B” is the weight of the plastic product component reported. Finally, “(C)” is the total amount of that plastic placed on the market in the province or territory. Average bill of materials method

The average bill of materials (ABOM) method groups similar products together, determines the amount of plastic packaging in a sample of those products, and then applies that factor to the total amount of units of that grouping sold. Producers placing various types of plastic products on the market may have multiple ABOM groups. Fixed-factor calculator method

Another method is for the Government of Canada to develop a fixed-factor calculator for producers to use to calculate the amount of plastics placed on the market. The government would determine the average amount of plastics in each subcategory of plastic products. That average would then be turned into a per unit conversion or multiplication factor that producers and PROs could multiply by the units of plastic products they place on the market in each province and territory.

(Z) = X x Y

“X” is the total number of plastic products sold in a province or territory. “Y” is the per unit conversion or multiplication factor that would be determined by the government. Finally, “(Z)” is the total amount of that plastic placed on the market in the province or territory.

3.5.2 Other data points

While different methods would be allowed for calculating plastics placed on the market, the Federal Plastics Registry would require actual weight-based data for downstream data points. This will ensure our understanding of EPR performance is as accurate as possible, and is consistent with approaches in provincial and territorial EPR policies.

3.6 Developing open standards for plastics data

The current data landscape for plastics is complex and changing. In addition to the Federal Plastics Registry and provincial and territorial EPR policies, other private and public sector groups are working to collect and manage large amounts of plastics data covering various product categories and lifecycle stages. Currently, Canada lacks unifying standards for this data, meaning data are categorized and organized differently and measure different things depending on who collects it. This makes it difficult or impossible for different databases or datasets to be compared, combined or manipulated to better understand the bigger picture of plastics flows in the Canadian economy and the environment.

The Government of Canada is considering developing, on its own or in partnership with others, a suite of open standards for plastics data. These standards would govern how plastics data for different product categories are categorized, defined, formatted, and organized, among other things. They would be open, meaning they would be free to access and could be used for any purpose, such as research, profit or policymaking. Importantly, they would promote the interoperability of different datasets and databases managed in Canada. This would facilitate information exchange and harmonized EPR reporting to reduce the administrative burden on businesses.

3.7 Verifying data

Many provincial and territorial EPR programs have data validation requirements for data that is submitted to them by producers or third parties. The Government of Canada is proposing a phased approach will be taken towards data verification by producers.

Producers submitting data to the registry for the first 2 years after the registry comes into force will be subject to self-verification requirements. They must:

From the third year on after the registry comes into force, producers must comply through the following mechanism:

4. Confidential business information

The Federal Plastics Registry will conform to the Directive on Open GovernmentFootnote 7 and the Directive on Service and DigitalFootnote 8 to provide data that can easily be accessed by Canadians to support transparency, accountability, citizen engagement, and socio-economic benefits while maintaining confidentiality and security of information. Although data collected from the registry should be open and accessible, it should not compromise confidential information provided by producers. The Government of Canada does value the privacy and confidentiality of all data collected. Personal information created, held or collected by ECCC is protected under the Privacy Act. Data collected will be aggregated into a consolidated data point to prevent the ability of detecting data points from an individual company.

Producers and PROs who submit data to the registry will be able to request confidentiality on each individual data point on the online reporting platform. Producers and PROs would need to provide a rationale as to why each data point is confidential on the online reporting platform.

4.1 Claiming confidentiality

Claims for confidentiality should only be made when the submitted information is truly confidential. To reduce the scope of confidentiality requests, producers requesting confidentiality for submitted information would be required to provide a rationale regarding the nature of the confidentiality, for example:

4.2 Review and disclosure of confidential information

There may be instances where the Government of Canada would want to make certain confidential information public. This includes, but is not limited to, situations where making the information public would serve to protect the environment or when it is necessary for the purposes of the administration or enforcement of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).

In these situations, a review, as per section 53 of CEPA would be done to determine whether certain information claimed as confidential could be released to promote transparency or because it is in the best interest of Canadians. A reasonable attempt will be made to contact the producer, who will be asked to provide additional information to substantiate their original claim, which may include:

4.3 Information generally not expected to be confidential

Certain types of information are generally not expected to be confidential. Release of this information is seen as desirable to promote transparency, for example:

5. Phased implementation approach

The approach to implementation of the Federal Plastic Registry remains unchanged from the July 25, 2022, consultation paper. The phased approach attempts to balance the need for data to support future expansions of EPR, while also recognizing that sectors not accustomed to EPR obligations may need more time to comply with reporting requirements, and that EPR coverage is not consistent across Canada. The 4 phases are illustrated in figure 2.

Table 2: phased implementation approach
Sector (plastics) Report on plastics placed on the market Report on plastics collected for diversion Report on plastics reused Report on plastics repaired, remanufactured, refurbished Report on plastics recycled Report on plastics recovered for energy
Packaging Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 2
Electronic and electrical equipment Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 3 Phase 3 Phase 3
Agriculture Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 2
White goods Phase 2 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 3 Phase 3 Phase 3
Textiles Phase 2 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4
Automotive Phase 2 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4
Construction Phase 2 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4 Phase 4

Figure 2: timeline of the phased implementation approach

Figure 2:timeline of the phased implementation approach
Long description of figure 2

Figure 2 is an arrow pointing to the right indicating the timeline of the implementation phases. The publication of final reporting instrument is December 30, 2024, followed by phase 1 reporting beginning on June 1, 2025. Phase 2 reporting begins June 1, 2026, phase 3 reporting begins June 1, 2027, and phase 4 reporting begins June 1, 2028.

The Government of Canada proposes to seek data from other sources to supplement some of the downstream data points in the later phases of implementation. Data could be collected from municipalities, waste management companies, or other service providers involved in value recovery.

6. Next steps

A draft section 46 notice, also referred to as a mandatory information gathering survey, is targeted for publication in Canada Gazette, Part I before the end of 2023. Section 46 of CEPA provides the Minister with the authority to gather the best information available for creating an inventory of data and enabling decision-making that contributes to the protection of the environment and human health.

A section 46 notice allows the Minister to request voluntary information as well, in addition to the information that is mandatory as per the notice. This gives the Minister more flexibility in the types of information that can be compelled from producers, and potentially other sources to strengthen data quality (for example, voluntary reports from municipalities or other service providers).

The publication of a draft Section 46 notice would be followed by a public comment period, during which the government would consult partners, stakeholders and the public on the draft text. A final notice is targeted for publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I before the end of 2024. Guidance would also be developed for those reporting to the Federal Plastics Registry to facilitate compliance.

The Government of Canada invites interested partners, stakeholders and members of the public to provide written comments on or before May 18, 2023.

Comments can be submitted via email to, or by mail to:

Tracey Spack
Plastics Regulatory Affairs Division
351 Blvd Saint-Joseph
Gatineau QC  J8Y 3Z5

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