OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada intends to impose binding standards for how much recyclable plastic content there has to be in products and packaging and wants new rules in place within 24 months, a top official said on Wednesday.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Canadians threw away around 3 million tonnes of plastic every year, of which only 9% was recycled.
“The problem is getting worse,” he told a news conference. Ottawa has a target of zero plastic waste by 2030.
“To ensure we keep much more of our plastic in the economy we are proposing to develop regulations to establish higher standards for plastic products and packaging,” he said.
The measures could include stipulating new products must contain certain levels of recycled plastics and obliging producers and sellers to do more to collect and recycle plastic. This, Wilkinson said, would spur investment in the recycling infrastructure, cut emissions and create jobs.
He spoke at event to confirm Ottawa is pressing ahead with a ban on six single-use plastic items like straws, bags and cutlery by the end of 2021.
All are harmful to the environment, difficult to recycle, and can readily be replaced by alternatives, he said. The ban was first announced in June 2019.
The federal Liberal government is starting consultations with enterprises and the 10 provinces on how to draw up rules on greater use of recycled plastic.
“I would like to get this done within the next 12 to 24 months,” Wilkinson said.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that while it welcomed the news, “significant shortfalls in waste facility capacity, recycling capacity and compostable plastics production need to be addressed.”
The western province of Alberta, Canada’s main source of oil and gas, said on Tuesday it aimed to become a hub for recycling plastics within a decade.