As communicated last year, the Government of Canada is implementing a comprehensive plan to reduce plastic pollution, improve how plastic is made, used, and managed across its life cycle, and move toward a circular economy.

The Federal Government is seeking to get a better handle on how much plastic is being produced in the country by forcing companies that make it to report annually on what they produce.

On April 22, 2024, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) published an information-gathering notice under section 46 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) to collect data for a Federal Plastics Registry. A section 46 information-gathering notice is authorized under CEPA to allow the Minister to collect data for the purpose of conducting research, creating an inventory of data, formulating objectives and codes of practice, issuing guidelines or assessing or reporting on the state of the environment.

The Federal Plastics Registry

The Federal Plastics Registry will require companies (including resin manufacturers, service providers, and producers of plastic products) to report annually on the quantity and types of plastic they manufacture, import, and place on the market. Producers of plastic products and service providers will also be required to report on the quantity of plastic collected and diverted, reused, repaired, remanufactured, refurbished, recycled, processed into chemicals, composted, incinerated, and landfilled. They will also be required to report on the amount of plastic waste generated on their industrial, commercial, and institutional premises.

The Government says the Federal Plastics Registry will provide Canadians, including innovators and decision-makers, with reliable data that will identify opportunities for further action to reduce plastic waste and pollution, as well as help monitor progress over time.

In Canada, the responsibility for managing waste is shared among the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. As part of their responsibilities, provinces and territories develop and expand extended producer-responsibility programs to make producers responsible for managing their products at their end-of-life. While extended producer responsibility plays an important role in building a circular plastics economy, reporting requirements are inconsistent across Canada due to different definitions, calculations, and indicators of success.

The Government’s Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste committed federal, provincial, and territorial governments to developing and maintaining Canada-wide data on how plastic moves through the economy. The Federal Plastics Registry will help address these needs by providing accessible, consistent and robust plastic data. This information will go beyond plastic packaging and other plastic categories currently captured through domestic extended producer-responsibility programs.

Implementation phases for the Federal Plastics Registry
Reporting requirements for the Federal Plastics Registry will be introduced in phases to allow time and flexibility for those obligated to report. Small producers that place less than one tonne of plastic on the market are exempt from making annual reports. This ensures that small businesses are not burdened and can continue to grow, while also ensuring that those placing significant quantities of plastic on the market are transparent with Canadians by reporting to the Registry.

Reporting to the Federal Plastics Registry will start in September 2025 with data from the 2024 calendar year for three categories including (1) Packaging (2) Electronic and Electrical Equipment; and (3) Single-use or Disposable Plastic Products.

In 2026, reporting requirements for resin manufacturers and importers will be added, as well as reporting on plastic placed on the market for the remaining categories. In 2026, reporting on plastic waste generated at industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC & I) facilities, plastic collected at end-of-life, as well as plastic sent for diversion and disposal for some categories, will also be introduced.

Refer to the table on the ECCC information notice.

In 2027, additional reporting requirements on plastics collected and sent for diversion and disposal for more categories will be added.

Further clarification and details will be required from the Canadian Government over the coming months to allow industry to properly report into the plastics registry and address issues such as the specific plastics and resins to be reported on, the complications involved with trying to track plastic materials with electronics and electrical equipment, gathering data on IC& I waste, which is not being reported on now within many EPR programs, as well as how the actual reporting portal will work.  For our member companies that will be impacted, you should start making plans to collect data on your plastics for the 2024 calendar year.  The CHPTA will be monitoring further details from ECCC and will pass on the info to our members as it becomes available.

Plastic Pollution Talks Make Modest Progress but Sidestep Production Curbs

Meanwhile, the Canadian Government’s announcement regarding the Plastics Registry came on the eve of the latest negotiations for a global treaty to end plastic waste.  The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-4) was held in Ottawa from April 23rd to the 29th where negotiators from 176 countries gathered for the fourth round of talks to create a global treaty to eliminate plastic waste in less than 20 years which wrapped up with far from a deal that would address the global scourge of plastic pollution.  There is still plenty to be worked out before a meaningful treaty can be reached at a fifth and final round of meetings scheduled for later this year in South Korea.

The Ottawa meeting ended with a commitment to focus on reducing the harmful chemicals produced by plastic and making plastic products easier to recycle.

There was, however, disagreement over whether to work on a binding commitment to limit plastic production.

Here’s a closer look at what the summit aimed to address, what came out of the Ottawa summit and what’s next.

What’s at stake
The plastic negotiations aim to address the enormous amount of plastic being produced, the harm it does to the natural world and human health and how plastic can better be recycled.

The production of plastic, which is made primarily from fossil fuels and chemicals, has doubled in the past two decades, from 200 million tonnes in 2000 to 400 million tonnes in 2019.

Every day, the equivalent of 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

According to UNEP, plastic pollution can alter habitats and the natural world, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods and food production capabilities.

Only about nine per cent of plastic is recycled.

What was agreed upon
One of the main takeaways from the meeting was that nations agreed to keep working on details ahead of the meeting in South Korea. This is known as “intersessional work.”

After the previous round of talks, they had not even agreed to that step.

Among the issues on the table is limiting harmful and avoidable plastic products and chemicals, designing products to make them easier to recycle and coming up with a plan to finance the final agreement.  That work will include searching for forms of funding to help developing countries implement the treaty. Countries also agreed to devise a process to identify plastic chemicals that are hazardous and plastic products that are wasteful, such as single-use plastic containers. But they failed to establish a formal process to review how much virgin plastic is produced or to determine how much might be considered unsustainable.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, sounded a note of optimism as the Ottawa meetings ended, saying in a statement there is “a clear path to landing an ambitious deal.”

She added: “The work, however, is far from over. The plastic pollution crisis continues to engulf the world.”

What’s missing
Lisa Gue, national policy manager at the David Suzuki Foundation, said objections from several oil and plastic producing states scuttled a proposal for intersessional discussions on limiting plastic production.

Without such a limit, Gue said in an interview it’s difficult to see how the final agreement could be considered a success. She said there’s still a chance to include a cap if “the many voices working on production limits take those efforts forward.”

Efforts to target production faced strong opposition from some petrochemical-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, as well as from industry groups who were lobbying in Ottawa.

They argued that, with the final summit just seven months away, countries should be focusing on less contentious topics such as plastic waste management and product design.

China’s lead negotiator in Ottawa, Yang Xiaoling, said countries should curtail their ambitions to reach consensus on a treaty later this year.

Rwanda’s representative said negotiators ignored the elephant in the room by not addressing plastic production.

Industry groups advocate for a treaty that focuses on recycling plastic and reuse, sometimes referred to as “circularity,” rather than limiting production.

The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, which represents plastic manufacturers, said it was pleased with progress made.

Isabelle Des Chênes, an association vice-president, said in a statement the group supports a treaty that “ends plastic pollution while retaining the essential benefits of plastics to foster a more sustainable and lower carbon future.”

What’s next
The Ottawa negotiations were the second-to-last meeting before 176 countries are expected to finalize a treaty to tackle plastic waste by addressing plastics throughout their lifecycle, from production to use and disposal.

A fifth and final meeting of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for Plastics is set for Busan, South Korea, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1.

Source: ECCC
Source: CP24
Source: CBC
Source: Reuters