Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Agenda
The Government of Canada is working with all levels of government, industry, non-government organizations, researchers and Canadians to take action on plastic waste and pollution.
Learn more about the federal #ZeroPlasticWaste agenda to #BeatPlasticPollution, including Canada’s actions to keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment.
Framework for collaborative action
Ocean Plastics Charter
Under Canada’s G7 presidency in 2018, we championed the development of the Ocean Plastics Charter to move toward a more sustainable approach to producing, using and managing plastics. By signing onto the Charter, governments, businesses and organizations join us in committing to a more resource-efficient and lifecycle approach to plastics stewardship, on land and at sea.
Through these partnerships, we can grow the momentum for real action on plastic pollution around the world.
Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste and Action Plan
In November 2018, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the federal, provincial and territorial governments adopted the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. Building on the Ocean Plastics Charter, the Strategy takes a circular economy and lifecycle approach to plastics and provides a framework for action in Canada.
The federal, provincial and territorial governments also adopted a Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste to implement the Strategy. The Plan, developed in two phases, sets out tangible actions and clear timelines to better prevent, reduce, reuse, recover, capture and clean up plastic waste and pollution in Canada.
Phase 1 of the Action Plan (2019) identifies actions to improve the circularity of plastics in the economy and make the systems change needed to reduce plastic waste. Phase 2 of the Action Plan (2020) outlines actions to reduce plastic pollution, raise awareness, strengthen science and take global action.
We have a comprehensive agenda to move Canada toward its vision of zero plastic waste and reduce plastic pollution. This includes developing targets, standards and regulations toward eliminating plastic pollution in Canada.
Greening our government
Canada's Greening Government Strategy is driving action within the federal government and guiding practical steps to manage the use and disposal of plastics within our own operations. We are working towards eliminating the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government operations, meetings and events, and purchasing more sustainable plastic products that can be reused, repaired or repurposed. We aim to extend the life of products and divert at least 75% of plastic waste from federal operations by 2030.
Retaining product value
We are also committed to finding ways to stop plastic and other types of waste in the first place, retain the value of products, and facilitate the transition to a circular economy. As part of this commitment, we will develop a strategy to encourage the remanufacturing of products and other value-retention processes – VRPs – (such as refurbishment, repair and reuse).
To help inform this work, we have published a socio-economic and environmental study that provides baseline data on VRPs in Canada and evaluates the benefits, challenges and opportunities of increasing them.
World-class, robust science informs evidence-based decisions, spurs innovation and helps to track progress. Canada supports and conducts research that improves our understanding of plastics in the economy and environment. But more work is needed to expand research, coordinate activities, support information sharing, and fill key research gaps.
Canada's Plastics Science Agenda (CaPSA), released in July 2019, is a framework to inform future science and research investments, as well as decision-making. CaPSA identifies knowledge gaps and helps to focus investments on priority research areas across the plastics lifecycle. The Increasing Knowledge on Plastics Pollution Initiative and Plastics Science for a Cleaner Future are examples of Canada's investments to address key knowledge gaps.
In October 2020, we published the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution. This report reviews the available scientific information about the potential impacts of plastic pollution on the environment and human health. It recommends action to reduce plastics in the environment in keeping with the precautionary principle. It will also help inform federal actions and policies, as well as future research on plastic pollution in Canada.
The Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenges (CPIC) are part of Canada's comprehensive approach to address plastic waste and pollution. This program offers funding to small and medium-sized enterprises to incentivize the development of technology to address plastic waste. Through CPIC, Canada is investing nearly $19 million to support Canadian innovators to develop solutions for plastics challenges, by providing winners with up to $150,000 to develop a proof of concept, then up to $1 million to develop a prototype if selected. Environment and Climate Change Canada is the sole sponsor of five of these challenges, which leveraged over $4 million in additional funding.
Innovation initiatives funded in Canada:
- Government of Canada supports Canadian innovation in tackling plastic packaging waste
- Government of Canada supports innovative, made-in-Canada solutions to plastic waste
- Government of Canada supports small businesses developing innovative solutions to plastic pollution
- Canada unveils support for Canadian innovation by small businesses to reduce plastic waste and beat plastic pollution
Canada has also pledged $20 million in support of the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter. This will provide the incentive to develop innovative social or technological solutions for the more sustainable management of plastics throughout their lifecycle.
We are working with all levels of government, industry, non-profit organizations and communities to implement plastic waste solutions.
Between 2018 and 2022, the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative, supported new innovative solutions that prevent, capture and remove plastic pollution, inform sustainable consumer actions and support circularity. We have invested over $5 million in a variety of projects focused on education and awareness-raising activities, community science, community projects and clean-ups. We invested an additional $3 million to support sector-based solutions to build a circular plastics economy. Leveraged by over $5.6 million in public and private funding, these efforts help mobilize and engage Canadians to reduce plastic waste and pollution.
Additionally, Canada's Ghost Gear Fund is assisting fish harvesters, environmental groups, Indigenous communities, the aquaculture industry, and coastal communities to find and retrieve harmful ghost gear from the ocean and dispose of it responsibly so that it can be recycled back into the economy.
Canadians want to see action. In 2018, we received over 13,000 comments when we asked Canadians to share their ideas about how we can reduce plastic waste and marine litter.
Canada is working with its partners around the world to reduce plastic waste and pollution. We support and are working with the global community to develop an ambitious new international legally-binding instrument on plastic pollution.
Canada implements its commitments to other key legally-binding international agreements that contribute to preventing plastic waste and marine litter such as:
- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
- The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
- The London Convention and Protocol to prevent marine pollution by dumping at sea
Canada is also advancing policy, research and actions to reduce plastic waste and marine litter with international partners, such as the G7, the G20, the Arctic Council and various bodies under the United Nations, through a variety of cooperative initiatives and measures including:
- Arctic Council Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic
- Commission for Environmental Cooperation: Reducing Marine Litter
- Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations Code of Conduct on Responsible Fishing
- Global Ghost Gear Initiative
- G7 Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter (PDF, 286 kB)
- G7 Bologna Environment Minister's Meeting Communique: 5-year Bologna Roadmap (PDF, 360 kB)
- G7 Toyama Framework on Material Cycles (PDF, 240 kB)
- G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter
- G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter (PDF, 250 kB)
- United Nations Clean Seas Campaign
- United Nations Environment Assembly resolutions
- United Nations Global Partnership on Marine Litter
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
As well, we are contributing $100 million to help developing countries prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans, address plastic waste on shorelines, and better manage existing plastic resources. This includes:
- $65 million through the World Bank ProBlue fund
- $6 million to strengthen innovative private-public partnerships through the World Economic Forum's Global Plastic Action Partnership
- $9 million to the Incubation Network to prevent plastic waste from entering the world's oceans
- $20 million to help implement the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter
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