Canada’s Federal Plastics Registry has far-reaching reporting obligations

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robot arm moving plastic bottle to conveyor belt of auto capping and labeling
The Federal Plastics Registry will require companies to register and report on plastics supplied in Canada. Photo Credit: gumpapa.stock.adobe.com

By Talia Gordner, Julia Loney and Martin Thiboutot 

On April 20, 2024, the Government of Canada published the final notice for the establishment of the Federal Plastics Registry (the “Notice”) under section 46(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”).

The publication of the Notice authorizes the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (“Environment Canada”) to collect data on plastics in Canada for the purpose of conducting research, creating an inventory of data, formulating objectives and codes of practice, issuing guidelines, and assessing and reporting on the state of the environment. 

The publication of the Notice follows Canada’s publication of a notice of intent (to issue the Notice) on December 30, 2023 (the “Notice of Intent”). This article provides a summary of the provisions of the Notice that passed the finish line as well as a few instances where Environment Canada’s proposed terms in the Notice of Intent did not make the final cut.

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What is the Federal Plastics Registry?

The Federal Plastics Registry will require companies to register and report on plastics supplied in Canada. The reported information is intended to inform Canada’s extended producer responsibility (“EPR”) policy, which aims to improve waste reduction and recycling activities by extending a producer’s physical and financial responsibility for a product to the post-consumer stage of its lifecycle (e.g., the end of the product’s useful life when it becomes waste). This initiative is part of Canada’s broader strategy to reduce plastic pollution and promote a circular economy, ensuring that plastic remains within the economy and is kept out of the environment.

These new requirements mandate companies, including resin manufacturers, service providers for the management of plastics, and producers of plastic products, to report annually to Environment Canada on the quantity and types of plastic they manufacture, import and place on the market. Additionally, producers of plastic products and service providers will also be required to report on the quantity of plastic collected and diverted, reused, repaired, remanufactured, refurbished, recycled, processed into chemicals, composted, incinerated, and landfilled. Those who generate packaging or plastic product waste will also be required to report on the amount of packaging or plastic waste generated on their industrial, commercial, and institutional premises.

What Categories of Products are Subject to the Federal Plastics Registry?

The Notice applies to all plastic resins and products listed in Parts 1 through 4 of Schedule 1 to the Notice (“Schedule 1”) that are manufactured in Canada, imported into Canada, or placed on the market in Canada, which are as follows:

  • Part 1 & 2: Plastic Resins – Plastic resins identified according to the North American Classification System (NAPCS) and certain designated resin sources.
  • Part 3: Plastic Packaging – Rigid and flexible plastic packaging both filled and unfilled within the following subcategories: (a) beverage container, (b) food contact material, (c) packaging for hazardous materials, (d) other packaging.
  • Part 4: Other Plastic Products – (1) Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE); (2) Tires; (3) Transportation; (4) Construction; (5) Agriculture and Horticulture; (6) Fishing and Aquaculture; (7) Apparel and Textiles; (8) Single-use or Disposal Products. Each of these categories are broken down into subcategories.

Since the publication of the Notice of Intent, the categories of products subject to the reporting requirements have been revised. Notably, the “White Goods” category has been subsumed within Category 1 of Part 4 and the catch all-provision for single-use or disposable plastic products has been replaced with a designated list of products under Part 4, Category 8. 

Who Will Have to Report?

Subject to a few exemptions noted below, the following companies are required to submit annual reports to Environment Canada under the Federal Plastics Registry:

  1. Manufacturers and importers of and companies who place plastic resins (Parts 1 and 2 of Schedule 1) on the market in Canada.
  2. Producers of plastic packaging or other plastic products (Parts 3 and 4 of Schedule 1) who, depending on the circumstances, may be the brand owner, intellectual property holder, manufacturer, first importer, distributor or supplier of the product.
  3. Generators of packaging and plastic product waste at their industrial, commercial or institutional facility. 
  4. Service providers for the management of plastic packaging or other plastic products (Parts 3 and 4 of Schedule 1) via the following non-exhaustive list of activities: (a) collecting or hauling; (b) arranging for direct reuse; (c) refurbishing; (d) repairing; (e) remanufacturing; (f) mechanical recycling; (g) chemical recycling; (h) processing into chemicals, including fuels; or (i) composting; (j) incineration with energy recovery; (k) incineration for industrial processes; (l) incineration without energy recovery; or (m) landfilling.

There are three exemptions to these reporting requirements intended to relieve small businesses or businesses with little involvement in the plastics industry of the obligations under the Federal Plastics Registry. A company is exempt from the reporting requirements if it:

a) manufactures, imports or places on the market less than 1,000 kg of plastic products or packaging per calendar year; 

b) generates less than 1,000 kg of packaging and plastic product waste at their industrial, commercial or institutional facility per calendar year; or

c) manages less than 1,000 kg of plastic via the activities listed in (4)(a) to (m) per calendar year.

In some instances, the company required to report may delegate this obligation to a third party, but will be required to provide additional information to Environment Canada on the delegation relationship in addition to the company’s reporting requirements.

bottles
These new requirements mandate companies, including resin manufacturers, service providers for the management of plastics, and producers of plastic products, to report annually to Environment Canada on the quantity and types of plastic they manufacture, import and place on the market. Photo Credit: hedgehog94, adobestock.com

When Will Reporting Obligations Go Into Effect?

The Notice immediately came into effect upon publication and applies to the calendar years 2024, 2025, and 2026. 

The Federal Plastics Registry requirements will be phased in by category of plastic products between 2025 and 2027 for the 2024 to 2026 calendar years (e.g., the 2024 calendar year report will need to be submitted by September 29, 2025; the 2025 calendar year report will need to be submitted by September 29, 2026; and the 2026 calendar year report will need to be submitted by September 29, 2027). The reporting obligations come into effect for each category as follows: 

  • 2024 Calendar Year: Reporting only required for Parts 1, 2 and 3 (resins and packaging) and Categories 1 and 8 (EEE and single-use or disposable products) of Part 4 of Schedule 1. 
  • 2025 and 2026 Calendar Years: Reporting required for all remaining categories. 

What Information is Required in the Annual Reports?

The information required to be reported for each of the plastics categories is also intended to be phased-in between 2025 and 2027, beginning with the 2024 calendar year reporting period. In addition to information on the company subject to the reporting, the reported information will include the identity, source, type and total quantity of each resin and plastic packaging or product and its collection, recycling or disposal at its end of life.

A company required to submit information under the Notice must keep its records of this information, together with any underlying calculations, measurements and data, for a period of no less than three years from the required submission date.

What Reported Information Will Become Public?

Companies subject to the Notice are required to submit the information discussed above using the Federal Plastics Registry online portal (which is expected to be live in the second half of 2024). Of the information collected, Environment Canada intends to publish certain information on resins and plastic products. 

Any person who provides information in response to the Notice is able to submit a written request that the submitted information be treated as confidential based on certain reasons provided for in section 52 of CEPA (e.g. information constitutes trade secrets or breach of contractual obligations). Nonetheless, Environment Canada may decide to disclose the information publicly if certain justifications are met (such as interests of protection of the environment or public health or safety). In such circumstances, the person can seek a Federal Court review of Environment Canada’s rejection of the confidentiality request.

Planning Ahead for Business

With the Federal Plastics Registry now in effect, companies that manufacture, import, sell, supply, generate, service or manage resins or plastic products in Canada must assess their reporting obligations and begin gathering the necessary information in preparation for reporting as early as 2025 for the 2024 calendar year. Companies should be aware that certain provinces also require the reporting of information pertaining to plastics as part of their local EPR programs, which often does not fully align with the information subject to the new federal requirements. Our environmental team at McMillan is available to assist in determining your company’s specific obligations under the Notice.

As the federal government continues to move forward with plans to study and reduce the amount of plastic waste generated within its borders, businesses should remain alert to ongoing developments in plastic regulation as Canada takes concrete steps towards its objective of zero plastic waste by 2030. 

McMillan LLP is a leading business law firm serving public, private and not-for-profit clients across key industries in Canada, the U.S. and internationally.

 Article republished with permission. Click here to read the original article, which includes references. 

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