Federal Leadership Towards Zero Plastic Waste in Canada initiative
The Government of Canada has been a leader in advancing the work to achieve zero plastic waste in Canada. In 2018 as G7 President, it launched the Ocean Plastics Charter, and is currently working with its provincial and territorial partners to implement the 2018 Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s (CCME) Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is also leading the three year Federal Leadership Towards Zero Plastic Waste in Canada initiative, to build on the existing work to achieve Canada’s zero plastic waste commitments. By working with the provinces, territories, industry and civil society the Government of Canada will:
- support the development of regulations and voluntary measures, including on single-use plastics
- facilitate the development of nationally-consistent Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies for plastic waste
- create market demand through procurement and consistent national standards
- support increased scientific knowledge to inform actions and measures
- contribute to community-led awareness and clean-up actions
The initiative aims to eliminate or reduce plastic waste, including by increasing waste diversion and the recovery of plastic waste, while also reducing marine pollution and GHG emissions, and stimulating clean growth.
Plastic plays an important part in the lives of Canadians and in the Canadian economy; it is low-cost, durable, and useful in a wide range of applications, from packaging, clothing, medical equipment, and to construction materials. However, the way plastic waste is managed in Canada is an issue of concern. According to a study conducted by Deloitte, over 3 million tonnes of plastics were discarded as waste in Canada in 2016, and only 9% was recycled. Plastic waste burdens our economy, due to the costs to manage it and the value that is lost when plastic is discarded. When leaked into the natural environment, plastics threatens the health of our wildlife, ecosystems, rivers, lakes and oceans. In 2016, 29,000 tonnes of plastic waste entered the environment as pollution. The Federal Leadership Towards Zero Plastic Waste in Canada initiative supports the implementation of the CCME Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste and the Ocean Plastics Charter. It aims to improve how plastics are: designed, made, used, collected, recycled, and recovered, and keep them in the economy and out of the environment.
By reducing the negative impacts of plastics on the environment and supporting the transition to a circular plastics economy, the initiative will help to achieve the following Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals, and the environmentally-related 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
- Healthy coasts and oceans and Pristine lakes and rivers: by reducing the amount of plastic litter in water bodies and on shorelines. The initiative will also contribute to SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation and SDG 14 Life Below Water and its target 14.1 which is to by 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.
- Clean growth: by helping to shift to a circular plastics economy through support for innovation, greater levels of plastics recycling, and national standards for recycled content in plastic products. The initiative will also contribute to SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production.
- Modern and resilient infrastructure: by supporting innovative and sustainable plastics recycling and related technologies and infrastructure. This initiative will also contribute to SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
- Safe and healthy communities: by supporting community-led awareness and clean-up actions. This initiative will also contribute to SDG 3 Good Health and Well-being.
- Connecting Canadians with nature: by engaging Canadians through awareness building and education to counter plastic waste and pollution, including marine litter, and actively engage in stewardship. This initiative will also contribute to SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.
- Effective action on climate change: by reducing fossil fuel consumption and lowering GHG emissions through the increased use of recycled plastics, the initiative will support the FSDS target to reduce Canada’s total GHG emissions by 30%, relative to 2005 emissions. The initiative will help achieve the Paris Agreement target to reduce emissions, while also advancing sustainable consumption and production goals. The initiative will also support SDG 13 Climate Action.
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