Government of Canada actions on plastic waste in federal operations

Plastics play a major role in our economy and daily lives. However, plastic waste is a growing problem in this country and around the world. Canada has committed to global leadership in government operations that are low-carbon, resilient and green. The Government of Canada is taking practical steps, consistent with the waste management elements of the Greening Government Strategy, to better manage the use and disposal of plastics in its own operations. The government’s steps to reduce plastic waste include new commitments to:

  • set explicit targets for diverting plastic waste
  • eliminate the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government operations
  • leverage procurement practices to focus on sustainable plastic products

Specifically, the Government of Canada will:

1. Increase plastic waste diversion

Commitment:  Divert at least 75% of plastic waste by 2030 from federal operations.

A plastic waste target is in line with, and supports, the Greening Government Strategy commitment to “divert at least 75% by weight of all non-hazardous operational waste by 2030.” This target will support the Ocean Plastics Charter commitments to increase the efficient use of resources while strengthening waste diversion systems and infrastructure to collect and process plastic materials.

2. Reduce single-use plastic use in operations, meetings and events

Commitment: Eliminate the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government operations, events and meetings.

Single-use plastic items, such as disposable straws, utensils, beverage bottles, disposable hot and cold drink cups, and plastic bags, are a visible component of the plastic waste stream and constitute a significant portion of the plastic litter in terrestrial and marine environments and can be difficult to collect and recycle. While single-use plastics may sometimes be necessary for accessibility, health, safety or security reasons, in many situations they can be avoided entirely or replaced by more reusable, compostable or recyclable alternatives. Alternatives that serve the accessibility and health needs of public servants, such as disposable bendable straws, will still be provided when needed.

3. Procure sustainable plastics products

Commitment: When procuring products that contain plastics, promote the procurement of sustainable plastic products and the reduction of associated plastic packaging waste.

Public procurement can be used to support markets for more sustainable plastics products, such as those that can be reused or repaired, are remanufactured or refurbished, are made with recycled plastic content, or can be readily recycled or composted at their end of life.

For all of these initiatives, the government approach will take into consideration the availability of plastic waste recycling and diversion options, health, accessibility, and national safety and security exemptions.

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