Zero plastic waste: Canada’s actions
The Government of Canada is working with all levels of government, industry, non-government organizations, academia and Canadians to take action on plastic waste and pollution.
Ocean Plastics Charter
Under Canada’s G7 presidency in 2018, we championed the development of the Ocean Plastics Charter to move toward a more sustainable approach to producing, using and managing plastics. By signing onto the Charter, governments, businesses and organizations join us in committing to a more resource-efficient and lifecycle approach to plastics stewardship, on land and at sea. Through these partnerships, we can grow the momentum for real action on plastic pollution around the world.
Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste
In November 2018, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the federal, provincial and territorial governments approved in principle a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. Building on the Ocean Plastics Charter, the strategy takes a circular economy approach to plastics and provides a framework for action in Canada.
We continue to work together to achieve results in key areas of the strategy:
- product design
- single-use plastics
- collection systems
- recycling capacity
- consumer awareness
- aquatic activities
- research and monitoring
- global action
Policies and regulations
The Government of Canada has over 10 federal acts, regulations and agreements that prevent plastic waste and marine litter. In June 2017, the Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations were published which prohibit the manufacture, import and sale of toiletries containing plastic microbeads, including non-prescription drugs and natural health products.
In June 2019, we announced new federal efforts to contribute to the Ocean Plastics Charter and our Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. This will drive ambitious actions with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders across Canada such as:
- banning single-use plastics that cause harm as early as 2021 where supported by scientific evidence and warranted, and taking other steps to reduce plastic waste
- working with provinces and territories to develop consistent extended producer responsibility programs so the same rules for collection and recycling apply to all companies that produce plastic products.
Greening our government
Canada is driving action within the federal government and taking practical steps to manage the use and disposal of plastics within our own operations. In 2018, we set goals to:
- divert at least 75% of plastic waste from federal operations by 2030
- eliminate the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government operations, meetings and events
- purchase more sustainable plastic products that can be reused, recycled, repaired or repurposed.
World-class, robust science informs evidence-based decisions, spurs innovation and helps to track progress. We support and conduct research that improves our understanding of the plastics economy in Canada. This includes the sources, distribution, fate and impacts of plastic pollution and microplastics in the environment and wildlife. But we still need to expand research, coordinate activities, support information sharing, and fill key research gaps.
In November 2018, we hosted the Best Brains Exchange on the Ecological and Human Health Fate and Effects of Microplastic Pollution and the Canadian Science Symposium on Plastics with subject matter experts that informed the development of Canada’s Plastics Science Agenda. It is a framework that spans the lifecycle of plastics to inform future science and research investments for:
- detecting plastics in the environment
- understanding and mitigating potential impacts on wildlife, human health and the environment
- advancing sustainable plastic production, recycling and recovery
- providing the evidence needed to support decision making as we move toward a zero plastic waste future.
We have pledged $20 million in support of the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter. It will provide the incentive to develop innovative social or technological solutions for the more sustainable management of plastics throughout their lifecycle.
In support of the G7 innovation challenge, we are also investing in innovative Canadian technologies to help small businesses across the country find new ways to reduce plastic waste and turn it into valuable resources that support a circular economy. Seven challenges have been launched so far to provide over $10 million to 18 Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises. They are working to reduce plastic waste from food packaging, construction waste, marine vessels and fishing gear. They are also improving plastic recycling through artificial intelligence and refining technologies for bioplastics.
We are working with all levels of government, industry, organizations and communities to implement plastic waste solutions. Since 2016, we have provided over $4 million to support education and awareness-raising projects, community demonstrations and clean-ups, and research on plastics and marine litter. These efforts help mobilize and engage Canadians to reduce plastic waste and pollution.
We also asked Canadians to share their ideas about how we can reduce plastic waste and marine litter. Between April and September 2018, we received over 1,900 comments on the online platform and over 12,000 campaign letters and emails in response.
Canada participates in several international organizations advancing policy and research to reduce plastic waste and marine litter such as the G7, the G20, the Arctic Council and various bodies under the United Nations. We also participate in a variety of initiatives and measures including:
- Arctic Council Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic
- Commission for Environmental Cooperation: Building Community Solutions to Marine Litter
- Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations Code of Conduct on Responsible Fishing
- Global Ghost Gear Initiative
- G7 Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter (PDF)
- G7 Bologna Roadmap
- G7 Toyama Framework on Material Cycles (PDF)
- G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter (PDF)
- G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter (PDF)
- United Nations Clean Seas Campaign
- United Nations Environment Assembly resolutions
- United Nations Global Partnership on Marine Litter
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Several legally-binding international agreements have been implemented that contribute to preventing plastic waste and marine litter such as:
- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
- The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
- The London Convention and Protocol to prevent marine pollution by dumping at sea
As well, we are contributing $100 million to help developing countries prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans, address plastic waste on shorelines, and better manage existing plastic resources. So far, this includes:
- $65 million through the World Bank
- $6 million to strengthen innovative private-public partnerships through the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership
- $20 million to help implement the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter.
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