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.

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 ending on March 14, 2022.

A technical issues paper, Recycled content for certain plastic manufactured items regulations, was also published for a 30-day public comment period ending on March 14, 2022.

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

Single-use plastics

In December 2021, Environment and Climate Change Canada published the proposed Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 155, No. 52 – December 25, 2021 for a 70-day public comment period ending on March 5, 2022.

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 ending on March 5, 2022. The draft guidance has been developed to help businesses and other organizations make decisions on alternative products or systems that prevent pollution and help Canada transition to a circular economy.

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
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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