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 on a Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution for a public consultation period ending on December 9, 2020.

Adding substances to Schedule 1

Plastic manufactured items have been proposed to be added to Schedule 1.

Science assessment of plastic pollution

On October 7, 2020, the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution was released and the related notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 154, No. 41 on 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.

The draft science assessment was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 154, No. 5 on February 1, 2020 for a 90-day public comment period.

Timelines

Timelines
Date Activity
October 10,
2020
Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, of the proposed Order to add plastic manufactured items to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and start of the 60-day public comment period.
October 10,
2020
The notice related to the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.
October 7,
2020
Publication of the discussion paper on 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 by 30 days, ending on May 1, 2020.
February 1,
2020
Publication of the related notice in the Canada Gazette, Part I, and start of 60-day public comment period.
January 30,
2020
Publication of the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution.
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