Feds launch consultations on labelling and registry for plastics

The federal government is launching consultations to develop rules for recyclability and compostability labelling and to establish a federal plastics registry for producers of plastic products.

Environment and climate change minister, Steven Guilbeault said in making the announcement that too many plastics are ending up in landfills, and in the environment.

“We must find a way to recirculate plastics in our economy. That means improving outcomes at each stage in the recycling process, and helping consumers understand labelling rules so that plastics are used multiple times,” Guilbault said.

“We also need better data collection, and rules for responsible producers that are consistent, comprehensive, and transparent. Together, these tools can help keep more plastic in the economy and out of the environment as we make measurable progress towards zero plastic waste.”

New labelling rules would prohibit the use of the chasing-arrows symbol and other recyclability claims on plastic products unless at least 80 percent of Canadians have access to recycling systems that accept and have reliable end markets for these products. Without these features, plastic products cannot be reprocessed and reintroduced to the market as part of a circular economy.

Labelling rules would also regulate the use of terms such as “compostable” and “biodegradable” on plastic products, requiring them to be certified by a third-party organization.

The new proposed regulations would also include rules requiring minimum levels of recycled plastic in certain products, on which the Government recently concluded consultations.

The goal is to improve plastic packaging design, inform consumer choices for the plastics they buy and how they use and dispose of them, and improve the performance of recycling systems to generate more and higher-quality recycled plastics.

Plastics registry

The registry would support the provinces and territories that are making plastic producers responsible for their plastic waste by requiring companies to report on the quantity of plastic products they place on the Canadian market and how these products are diverted from landfills at the end of their lives.

These consultations follow Canada’s recent publication of regulations to ban harmful single‑use plastics, all of which are part of the Government’s plan to reduce plastic pollution through a comprehensive approach that addresses the entire life cycle of plastics.

Until October 7, 2022, partners, stakeholders, and the public are invited to comment on the discussion papers for the development of labelling rules and the federal plastic registry. A draft regulatory text for labelling rules is targeted for publication as early as mid‑2023.