Zero plastic waste: Canada’s actions

The Government of Canada is working with all levels of government, industry, non-government organizations, academia and Canadians to take action on plastic waste and pollution.

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.

Ocean Plastics Charter

Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste

In November 2018, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the federal, provincial and territorial governments approved in principle a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. Building on the Ocean Plastics Charter, the strategy takes a circular economy approach to plastics and provides a framework for action in Canada.

We continue to work together to achieve results in key areas of the strategy:

In June 2019, Environment Ministers approved the first phase of the action plan, which identifies the government activities that will support the implementation of the strategy. A second phase will follow in 2020 to address the last five key areas of the strategy.

Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste

Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste Phase 1

Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste Phase 2

Policies and regulations

The Government of Canada has over 10 federal acts, regulations and agreements that prevent plastic waste and marine litter. In June 2017, the Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations were published which prohibit the manufacture, import and sale of toiletries containing plastic microbeads, including non-prescription drugs and natural health products.

In June 2019, we announced new federal efforts to contribute to the Ocean Plastics Charter and our Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. This will drive ambitious actions with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders across Canada such as:

Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations

Canada to ban harmful single-use plastics and hold companies responsible for plastic waste

Greening our government

Canada is driving action within the federal government and taking practical steps to manage the use and disposal of plastics within our own operations. In 2018, we set goals to:

Greening Government Strategy

Government of Canada actions on plastic waste in federal operations

Advancing science

World-class, robust science informs evidence-based decisions, spurs innovation and helps to track progress. We support and conduct research that improves our understanding of the plastics economy in Canada.  This includes the sources, distribution, fate and impacts of plastic pollution and microplastics in the environment and wildlife. But we still need to expand research, coordinate activities, support information sharing, and fill key research gaps.

In January 2020, we published the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution. This Draft report reviews the available scientific information regarding the impact of plastic pollution on the environment and human health. It will also help inform federal actions and policies, as well as future research on plastic pollution in Canada.

Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution

Canada’s Plastic Science Agenda

Plastics innovation

We have pledged $20 million in support of the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter.  It will provide the incentive to develop innovative social or technological solutions for the more sustainable management of plastics throughout their lifecycle.

In support of the G7 innovation challenge, we are also investing in innovative Canadian technologies to help small businesses across the country find new ways to reduce plastic waste and turn it into valuable resources that support a circular economy. Seven challenges have been launched so far to provide over $10 million to 18 Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises. They are working to reduce plastic waste from food packaging, construction waste, marine vessels and fishing gear. They are also improving plastic recycling through artificial intelligence and refining technologies for bioplastics.

Innovative Solutions Canada Challenges

Canada unveils support for Canadian innovation by small businesses to reduce plastic waste and beat plastic pollution

Mobilizing Canadians

We are working with all levels of government, industry, organizations and communities to implement plastic waste solutions. Since 2016, we have provided over $4 million to support education and awareness-raising projects, community demonstrations and clean-ups, and research on plastics and marine litter. These efforts help mobilize and engage Canadians to reduce plastic waste and pollution.

We also asked Canadians to share their ideas about how we can reduce plastic waste and marine litter.  Between April and September 2018, we received over 1,900 comments on the online platform and over 12,000 campaign letters and emails in response.

Moving Canada toward zero plastic waste: Closed consultation

International actions

Canada participates in several international organizations advancing policy and research to reduce plastic waste and marine litter such as the G7, the G20, the Arctic Council and various bodies under the United Nations. We also participate in a variety of initiatives and measures including:

Several legally-binding international agreements have been implemented that contribute to preventing plastic waste and marine litter such as:

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. So far, this includes:

Related links

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999)

Fisheries Act

Overview of extended producer responsibility in Canada

Toward zero plastic waste

Zero plastic waste

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