Government of Canada Announces Proposed Regulations for Single-Use Plastics

  • October 21, 2020
  • Richard J. King, Jennifer Fairfax, Patrick G. Welsh, and Isabelle Crew

On October 7, 2020, the Canadian government announced details of its proposed approach to the regulation of plastics. The government’s announcement, detailed in Discussion Paper: A Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution [PDF] (the “Discussion Paper”), proposes significant changes to the regulation of plastic products in Canada, including:

  • banning or restricting certain single-use plastics by as early as 2021;
  • establishing recycled-content requirements for plastic products and packaging; and
  • developing consistent national targets, standards and regulations in concert with provincial and territorial governments to mandate extended producer responsibility for plastic products.

In order to implement the proposed measures, the federal government announced that it will add “plastic manufactured items” to the list of toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”). This will be done by way of government Order, expected to be issued on October 10, 2020, and is a necessary prerequisite to taking the regulatory measures noted above. 

This update provides a high-level overview of the proposed measures being contemplated in the Discussion Paper, and outlines next steps for stakeholders that may be impacted by those proposed measures. Specifically, the federal government’s Discussion Paper sets out 13 specific questions on which it is seeking feedback by December 9, 2020.