Uncertainties about the management of single-use plastics

Petition: 440

Issue(s): Compliance and enforcement; Corporate social responsibility; Human/environmental health; Science and technology; Waste management

Petitioner(s): A Canadian resident

Petitioner Location(s): Courtice, Ontario

Date Received: 18 March 2020

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition raises concerns about single-use plastic pollution and the amount of recycling carried out in Canada. It claims that the rate of recycling and reusing plastics is much lower than the daily rate of production for new plastics. The petition calls for the producers of plastics and corporate users of these products to be held responsible for the production and pollution caused by the plastics.

The petition refers to the Government of Canada’s plan to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021 and seeks clarification on the implications of the law to ban single-use plastics. The petition also asks federal ministers to provide a list of products that are currently included in the category of single-use plastics and that will either be prohibited and replaced with alternative products or be produced less without being replaced. The petition claims that a clearly defined list is important, to give companies and consumers time to adjust to the changes.

The petition also mentions the federal target of achieving 100% reusable and recyclable plastic products by 2030 and states that, in the short term, the government is encouraging corporations to be accountable for reducing their production of plastic. The petition requests that the government provide examples demonstrating this accountability and explain whether corporations will be held accountable through penalties, subsidies, or enforcement of laws. The petition asks how the accountability will change after the law to ban single-use plastics comes into force.

The petition cites the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as a policy instrument that transfers the responsibility of waste from the municipality to the producer. The petition requests that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change make public the regulations and details of the EPR program that was implemented by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment in October 2009.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada