Canada winds down consultations on recycled content limits, better product labelling, new plastics registry

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As it stands, the government says that a lack of reliable and accessible information, increasingly complex packaging designs, and overall poor recycling outcomes threaten Canadians’ trust in recycling systems. Photo credit: New Africa, stock.adobe.com

*The following regulatory news article is intended to be a preview of the legislation and not a replacement for the actual guidance from the government. For the comprehensive data and all relevant information, please visit the linked source material within the article.

Environment and Climate Change Canada will soon close consultations on setting minimum recycled content requirements, more precise labelling rules for product recyclability, and the development of a federal plastic producers registry.

In support of Canada’s new Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations, the federal government says its proposed recycled content and labelling rules, as well as the federal plastics registry, should be part of Canada’s circular economy plan and help to address the reality that the country recycles less than 9% of the some 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste generated each year.

A new regulatory framework paper explores the creation of minimum recycled content requirements for certain plastic manufactured items and also proposes ways to more clearly communicate to Canadians whether a product is truly recyclable or compostable. As it stands, the government says that a lack of reliable and accessible information, increasingly complex packaging designs, and overall poor recycling outcomes threaten Canadians’ trust in recycling systems.

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“To keep plastics circulating, recycling systems must be efficient and operate effectively at scale,” states the recycled content framework paper. “Recycling is a process that involves, at a minimum, collection, sorting and reprocessing. Available data shows that, under the current system, packaging that could be recycled is instead sent to landfill at each stage.”

The current proposal suggests that in order to claim recyclability an item must be accepted in at least 80% of the province’s collection system, a figure many stakeholders have already responded to as highly ambitious.

Under the new proposal, rigid plastic beverage containers, as well as jars and tubs, would be required to be made from at least 60% recycled material by 2030.

Starting in 2028, companies would be required to have all products claiming to use recycled content be certified to an approved third-party certification scheme for recycled content.

In addition to affixing a recycling label to the item, regulated parties would be required to include a QR code that provides Canadians information about the item’s recyclability.

The proposed labelling rules would also apply to single-use plastics, although several items in this category will be impacted under a phased-in federal ban.

Products primarily relating to health, nutrition or safety would be exempt from recycled content requirements.

The government intends to publish the proposed regulatory framework for labelling rules and recycled content requirements for public comment in spring 2023.

Plastics Registry

Creating a federal plastics registry is intended to standardize the data collected through provincial and territorial Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, which make producers responsible for the collection and management of their own products and packaging at end of life.

Environment and Climate Change Canada states in the registry’s technical paper that, “inconsistent data collection can lead to difficulties with data access and performance measurement, a lack of baseline data for future EPR policies, and a lack of accurate verification and public reporting.”

During feedback heard so far, the federal government says that stakeholders have expressed a desire for a centralized portal that adheres to open data principles and provides more detail than current Extended Producer Responsibility reporting systems.

Related Professional Development Course

Attend “Environmental Regulation & Compliance 2023” on May 9th to learn more about the regulatory framework around waste management in Canada, as well as Extended Producer Responsibility regulations, trends and resources. The course is part of the 2023 CANECT Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event, May 9-11, 2023 in Vaughan, Ontario. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

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