Plastic pollution

Information sheet

Plastic pollution is considered to be plastic that is discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the environment outside of a waste management system (such as a recycling facility or a landfill).

In an environmental context, plastics are often categorized by size, with macroplastics being larger than 5 millimetres (mm) and microplastics being less than or equal to 5 mm.

The Government of Canada conducted a science assessment to summarize the current state of the science regarding the potential impacts of plastic pollution on human health and the environment, as well as to guide future research and inform decision-making on plastic pollution in Canada.

Discussion paper on a proposed integrated management approach to plastic products to prevent waste and pollution

In October 2020, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a discussion paper:  A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products to prevent waste and pollution for a public consultation period ending on December 9, 2020. In August 2021, a what we heard report was published that summarizes the feedback received on the discussion paper via written comments, webinars, and stakeholder discussion sessions.

Adding substances to Schedule 1

Plastic manufactured items have been added to Schedule 1.

Several notices of objection and requests for the establishment of a board of review were received following the publication of the proposed order. Responses to these notices have been published. A summary table of public comments received on the proposed order has also been published.

Science assessment of plastic pollution

In February 2020, the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution was released and the related notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 154, No. 5 - February 1, 2020 for a 90-day public comment period.

In October 2020, the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution was released and the related notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 154, No. 4 - October 10, 2020A summary table of public comments received on the draft science assessment has also been published.

The science assessment provides a review of the available information on plastic pollution, including its sources, occurrence, and fate, as well as on the potential effects of plastics on the environment and human health. The science assessment is not intended to quantify the risks of plastic pollution on the environment or human health, but rather to survey the existing state of science in order to guide future scientific and regulatory (or other) activities.

Timelines

Timelines
Date Activity
August 6,
2021
Publication of a what we heard report that summarizes feedback received on the discussion paper: A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products to prevent waste and pollution
May 12, 2021 Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II, of the final order adding plastic manufactured items to Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).
October 10,
2020
Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, of the proposed order to add plastic manufactured items to Schedule 1 to CEPA 1999 and start of the 60-day public comment period.
October 10,
2020
Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I of the notice related to the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution.
October 7,
2020
Publication of the discussion paper: A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products to prevent waste and pollution and start of the public consultation period, ending on December 9, 2020.
October 7,
2020
Publication of the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution.
March 27,
2020
Extension of the public comment period on the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution by 30 days, ending on May 1, 2020.
February 1,
2020
Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, of the notice related to the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution  and start of 60-day public comment period.
January 30,
2020
Publication of the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution.
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