Federal Plastics Registry could fill gaps in provincial EPR reporting, proposal states 

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plastic production
Plastics producers obligated to report to the registry are currently defined as a brand owner or intellectual property holder. If the brand owner is out of province, then the first person to manufacture, import or distribute a product in a province is defined as the obligated producer. Photo Credit: Aleksandr Matveev, stock.adobe.com

Canada has launched a public consultation on the creation of a Federal Plastics Registry to track plastic from the time it is produced to its end of life.

The national registry would require producers to report annually on the quantity and types of plastic they add to the Canadian market, then monitor how that plastic moves through the economy. This information would be used to measure progress toward zero plastic waste and the transition to a circular economy, states Environment and Climate Change Canada, which is collecting feedback on the proposal until February 13.

“Canadians are demanding action to tackle the plastic waste and pollution crisis, and the federal government will continue to act,” announced Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, in a statement. “The Federal Plastics Registry is an important tool that will help track and manage plastics across the economy,” he added.

Plastics producers obligated to report to the registry are currently defined as a brand owner or intellectual property holder. If the brand owner is out of province, then the first person to manufacture, import or distribute a product in a province is defined as the obligated producer. Barring that, the retailer that places plastic products on the market in a province or territory would become obligated to report.

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Types of plastics that would need to be tracked could span a wide range of uses, from electrical equipment, to medical devices, sports equipment, construction, automotive supplies, or toys and beverages, the federal government stated.

Information posted to the plastics registry would be openly accessible to all Canadians and businesses through an online reporting platform designed to complement existing reporting requirements under provincial extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, which can be inconsistent, Guilbeault noted. A federal program, he said, would fill in the gaps.

Some critics of the registry concept, such as the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada, have suggested that the federal government should focus on harmonizing current EPR requirements to reduce administrative burdens and prevent any potential duplication of efforts through a new registry. 

Several primary data points would be available in the proposed plastics registry, according to a 2022 federal consultation paper. For instance, producers would be required to report the quantity of plastics placed on the market, as well as the total amount of plastics diverted, reused, refurbished, and recycled. Other planned data points would cover plastic imports and exports, as well as plastics incinerated for energy recovery, or sent to landfill.

Section 46 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) allows the government to collect information for the purpose of conducting research, creating an inventory of data, formulating objectives, issuing guidelines, or assessing or reporting on the state of the environment.

If passed, the first phase of reporting for the plastics registry isn’t set to begin until June 2025.

A technical paper on the creation of the plastics registry is also available here. 

“EPR policies are data driven, and a lack of baseline data can complicate and lengthen the time needed for jurisdictions to develop EPR policies for different categories of plastic products,” states the federal consultation paper. “This baseline data includes both the quantity of plastic products placed on the market, as well as the number of producers, and how much is collected, recycled domestically and exported.”

The federal government says Canadians threw away 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2019 alone. Only 9% was recycled, according to a Deloitte study.

A federal court ruling recently called into question Ottawa’s categorization of all plastic manufactured items as toxic. 

Related Professional Development Course

Attend “The Evolving Landscape of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)” on April 25th at the CANECT 2024 Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event in Vaughan, Ontario. Attendees will learn about EPR programs across Canada and how producers such as manufacturers, distributors and retailers are impacted. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

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