Canada’s Industry Leaders Unite to Tackle Plastic Waste with Launch of Unnecessary & Problematic Plastics Guidance

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OTTAWA, April 24, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Canada Plastics Pact (CPP), in partnership with the National Zero Waste Council, has released guidance for industry to take urgent measures to eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastics. The guidance includes a list of 13 unnecessary or problematic items and flagged four in transition as industries collaborate to scale solutions.

The document was developed by a cross-section of CPP Partners to be used by all Canadian stakeholders that put plastics in the market. It provides guidance to industry on how to determine whether various plastic packaging is necessary, and if it is, what packaging is likely to have a place in the circular economy.

The guide focuses on circular design and prioritizes upstream innovation: eliminating unnecessary packaging or reusing it whenever possible, and when packaging is needed, designing it for long-term use rather than single use where possible.

The CPP recognizes that relying solely on recycling systems will not solve our plastic packaging waste challenges, and that even if industry were to meet all recycling targets it would not be sufficient to eliminate plastic waste entirely.

“Research has shown that single-use items are the most common items found in cleanup efforts in Canada and worldwide. Our latest CPP data reveals that an estimated 978,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste was produced in 2022 through residential recycling systems and waste management initiatives, with only 20 percent of it being recycled. It's clear that the first step we need to take is to eliminate the plastics we don't need,” stated Cher Mereweather, Managing Director, Canada Plastics Pact.

The CPP defines unnecessary plastic as packaging items that can be removed without compromising supply / operational efficiencies. Problematic plastic is defined as packaging items that are currently not recyclable and are not likely to have a sustainable and efficient system in practice and at scale in place to be recyclable, reusable, or refillable to meet CPP’s Target 1.

“Immediate action is imperative to tackle the challenges posed by plastic waste. This document gives industry clarity and direction. Keeping plastics in our economy and out of people, animals, and nature is a complex challenge that requires collaboration and innovation at all levels, from all sectors,” Cher continued.

As of 2022, 100% of CPP Signatories have plans to reduce or eliminate eight problematic items.

The Unnecessary & Problematic Plastics list includes various items such as checkout bags, cutlery, straws, oxo-degradables, and materials containing intentionally added Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). A full list of items is available for reference here.

“At the National Zero Waste Council, we are focused on preventing waste in the first place. There is a lot of great work going into finding solutions for single use packaging waste, and we are pleased to be a part of the solution in identifying materials that can be eliminated. We look forward to continuing to work to find upstream solutions to plastic waste,” said Craig Hodge, Chair, National Zero Waste Council.

The publication of this guidance document fulfills CPP’s commitment to Target 1: “Define a list of plastic packaging that is designated as unnecessary or problematic and take measures to eliminate them.” CPP continues to push for rapid action before 2025 but recognizes elimination of some of the unwanted plastics will require a commitment of years - not months. CPP’s updated Roadmap to Circularity will be published in early summer 2024 and align with global timelines.

To date, ten global plastic pacts have published similar lists, including the U.S., UK, India, France, Chile, and South Africa. The CPP is a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Pact Network which connects national and regional organizations around the world to implement solutions towards a circular economy for plastic.

To read the Elimination of Unnecessary & Problematic Plastics Guidance, please click here.

About the Canada Plastics Pact

The Canada Plastics Pact is leading Canada's response to the escalating plastic crisis. We exist to eliminate plastic waste by accelerating and scaling the solutions that will keep plastics in the economy and out of people, animals, and nature. Through fostering innovation and collaboration, 100+ Partners from across the plastics value chain are taking meaningful steps to eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastics, redesign packaging and increase their use of recycled plastic. CPP is a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Plastics Pact network and is a solution space of The Natural Step Canada in partnership with the Smart Prosperity Institute, whose shared vision is a strong and inclusive economy that thrives within nature’s limits. Learn more | @CanadaPact

About the National Zero Waste Council

The National Zero Waste Council, an initiative of Metro Vancouver, is leading Canada's transition to a circular economy by bringing together governments, businesses, and NGOs to advance a waste prevention agenda that maximizes economic opportunities for the benefit of all Canadians. Learn more:

Media inquiries:

Moojan Haidari
Communications Manager
Canada Plastics Pact

Media Relations Team
National Zero Waste Council