Canada’s Strategy on Zero Waste PlasticBlog
November 28, 2018 – A national Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste was presented jointly by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC) at a multistakeholder workshop on Canadian chemicals management plan in Ottawa. The Strategy was launched a few days before by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment with the goal to keep all plastics in the economy and out of the environment. The Strategy is consistent with areas presented in the Ocean Plastics Charter, that was launched by Canada as part of its 2018 G7 presidency, under the theme of ocean health and marine litter.
The vision of the Strategy is to keep all plastics in the economy and out of the environment using a circular economy approach. While waste management programs are established in Canada, more than 89% of plastics are still landfilled and incinerated. To improve the situation, the Strategy recognizes an integrated system that consists of three areas of activity: prevention, collection and clean-up, and value recovery. The system will be supported by enabling activities, including awareness raising and education, research and innovations, regulations and market-based instruments. The design of plastic products will become one of the priority actions that will contribute to the overall goal of 100% reusable and recyclable plastic products. Canada also plans to reduce the amount of e-waste plastic exported to other countries with the aim to recycle more domestically.
At the workshop in Ottawa the NGO groups raised concerns over recycling of plastic contaminated with toxic chemicals into new products which undermines the recycling and the circular economy. Examples of new recycled produced products containing same toxic additives as the original material were provided. In its response to the NGO concerns, the ECCC noted that the design of safe plastic, free from toxic chemicals will be part of the actions aimed at the implementation of the Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. Design of plastic products that could be recycled putting a specific ban on other plastic – is one of the approaches that ECCC is considering. It was noted, that in many cases there is no need in single use plastic products if they cannot be recycled.
NGOs further highlighted concerns over the impact of plastic-to-fuel technologies on climate change, as well as the increase in toxic emissions and toxic ash as a result of energy recovery from waste to energy technology. ECCC recognized the problem by saying that the country is not willing to increase the number of waste-to-energy facilities so far and that toxic ash and other residues are well regulated.