Private member’s bill to remove plastics ‘toxic’ listing earns support of chemistry industry

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The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) says it supports a new private member’s bill that wants to remove the classification of plastic manufactured items as “toxic” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, known as CEPA. 

Member of Parliament Corey Tochor of Saskatoon—University, Saskatchewan, had the second reading of his amendment on February 13.  

Tochor’s private member’s bill follows a federal court ruling from November 16, 2023, which stated that the Liberal government’s move to list all plastic items as toxic under CEPA was “unreasonable and unconstitutional”, and represented a move outside of its authority. It is a court ruling that the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, vowed to appeal in what he called the continuing fight against plastic pollution.      

In a statement after the second reading of the private member’s bill (Bill C-380), CIAC expressed that its members “strongly believe that plastics are a valuable resource that belong in the economy and not the environment.” 

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CIAC added that, “the unique characteristics of plastics help ensure a modern, sustainable way of life for Canadians.” 

Environmental advocacy groups have argued that the “toxic” designation under Schedule 1 of CEPA was warranted for plastics because it highlights the risks to animal health posed by plastic pollution. 

As Tochor introduced his bill to the House of Commons, he focused on how targeting plastics could cause the price of food to increase to even higher rates at a time when many consumers are already strapped for cash. 

“It is an honour to introduce my bill, which would bring back the plastic straw, but more importantly, drive down food costs across the country,” Tochor told MPs. 

CIAC added that CEPA is “not an appropriate legislative instrument for managing post-consumer plastics” in Canada. The association notes that it is eager to work with both federal and provincial leaders to build a circular economy for plastics in Canada. 

CIAC also stated that it is dedicated to its Operation Clean Sweep program, which focuses on environmental stewardship designed to help “every plastic resin manufacturing and handling operation implement good housekeeping and resin containment practices.” 

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