Plastic pollution

Information sheet

Plastic pollution is considered to be plastic that is discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the environment.

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.

Consultations

Rules to strengthen recycling and composting of plastics through accurate labelling

In July 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada published the Consultation paper: Towards Canada-wide rules to strengthen recycling and composting of plastics through accurate labelling for a consultation period ending on October 7, 2022. The paper provides stakeholders with the opportunity to provide input on how the Government of Canada could introduce rules to improve the accuracy of recyclability and compostability labelling for plastics.

Federal plastics registry for the producers of plastic products

In July 2022, the Government of Canada published the Consultation paper: a proposed federal plastics registry for the producers of plastic products for a consultation period, ending on October 7, 2022. The paper provides stakeholders with the opportunity to provide input on how the Government of Canada could establish a federal plastics registry and require producers of plastic products to report on plastics in the Canadian economy. The federal plastics registry would support provincial and territorial extended producer responsibility systems by harmonizing how data is collected and made available to Canadians. This will improve the transparency of plastics recycling systems across Canada and support higher rates of value recovery.

Regulations

Single-use plastics

In June 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada published the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II: Vol. 156, No. 13 – June 22, 2022. These regulations prohibit the manufacture, import, and sale of 6 categories of single-use plastics. These regulations also provide exemptions to accommodate people with disabilities.

To assist stakeholders with the new regulations, Environment and Climate Change Canada published 2 guidance documents:

In December 2021, the proposed Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 155, No. 52 – December 25, 2021 for a 70-day public comment period. A draft of the Guidance for Selecting Alternatives to the Single-use Plastics in the Proposed Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations was also published for a 70-day comment period. Several notices of objection and requests for the establishment of a board of review were received following the publication of the proposed regulations. Responses to these notices have been published. A summary table of public comments received on the proposed regulations has also been published.

For more information on plastics, visit the Plastic waste and pollution reduction web page.

Proposed regulations

Recycled content requirements

In February 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a notice of intent on the development of proposed regulations that would set minimum recycled content requirements for certain plastic manufactured items in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Vol. 156, No. 7 – February 12, 2022 for a 30-day public comment period.

A technical issues paper, Recycled content for certain plastic manufactured items regulations, was also published for a 30-day public comment period.

Feedback received during the public comment period will be taken into account in the development of the proposed regulations.

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, 2020. A 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
July 25, 2022 Publication of the Consultation paper: Towards Canada-wide rules to strengthen recycling and composting of plastics through accurate labelling and start of a consultation period.
July 25, 2022 Publication of the Consultation paper: a proposed federal registry for producers of plastic products and start of a public consultation period.
June 22, 2022 Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II of the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations.
June 20, 2022 Publication of Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations – Guidance for selecting alternatives.
June 20, 2022 Publication of Single-use Plastics Prohibitions Regulations - Technical guidelines.
June 20, 2022 Publication on the CEPA Registry of the Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations.
February 12, 2022 Publication of a notice of intent and a technical issues paper on the proposed development of regulations that would set minimum recycled content requirements for certain plastic manufactured items and start of a 30-day public comment period.
December 25, 2021 Publication of a draft Guidance for Selecting Alternatives to the Single-Use Plastics in the Proposed Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations and start of the 70-day comment period.
December 25, 2021 Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, of the proposed Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations and start of the 70-day public comment period.
August 5, 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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