Canada’s Plans for a Coordinated and
Two years ago, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment released a strategy with a goal of creating a zero plastic waste economy in Canada. What we need now is to implement that plan, not ban plastic products.
Listening to what Canadians have always wanted, the CCME Action Plan for Zero Plastic Waste takes a cooperative and collaborative approach to planning for a future in Canada that focuses on a circular economy of plastics. This holistic plan does not ban plastics. Instead, by setting standards for packaging and recycling, the CCME Plan for Zero Waste examines the entire lifecycle of plastics, and brings together perspectives from businesses, scientists and industry leaders.
Here’s what the plan contains:
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Under the plan, CCME would facilitate harmonized and consistent EPR programs. Working with industry, CCME would institute goals for plastic collection and recycling rates, offer guidance on common materials and implement incentives to drive innovation in recycling.
Single-Use and Disposable Plastic Products. Rather than calling for a full ban on certain items, CCME’s plan for single-use plastic products looks at where single-use items can be avoided or redesigned to be more easily recycled. The ban we see proposed today for single-use items does not have the same collaborative and thoughtful approach to responsibly managing single-use plastics.
National Performance Requirements and Standards. Reducing plastic waste requires looking at the entire lifecycle of plastic products, and the CCME plan proposes an update to existing standards as well as new ones that would develop targets for recycled content and compostable items. These standards would influence the design of products at the beginning of an item’s lifecycle.
Incentives for a Circular Economy. There are many barriers to reaching higher recycling rates which keep Canada from realizing the full value of plastics. These include the additives that reduce the quality of recycled plastic, a lack of end market uses for recycled goods and low landfill costs. Many of these barriers could be overcome by implemennting standards in recycled plastic content and fiscal and economic incentives to use recycled plastics. The CCME plan accounts for the creation of these incentives to usher in a fully circular economy.
Infrastructure and Innovation Investments. Like the fiscal incentives for a circular economy, the CCME plan also explains how investments into Canada’s infrastructure and innovation could create a transformation in the market for recycled plastic. The CCME plan includes a discussion of how Canada would assess its infrastructure needs for managing the plastics life-cycle as well as work with jurisdictions, industry and other funders to identify investment opportunities.
Public Procurement and Green Operations. Canadians are already taking steps to promote sustainability. The CCME plan seeks to provide municipalities and provinces with guidelines to update their sustainable procurement practices, which would include best practices for managing the lifecycle of plastics.
The CCME plan is the best roadmap for our future because it recognizes that zero plastic waste doesn’t mean zero plastic. We can still use this valuable resource while protecting our environment and investing in a more economically sound future for Canada.
We already have the plan—let’s follow it.