Manufacturer Accountability with Canadian Plastic Registry

The Canadian Plastic Registry will monitor and track plastic from its production to its end of life in an effort to reduce plastic waste.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Canadian Plastic Registry will monitor and track plastic from its production to its end of life in an effort to reduce plastic waste. Image: Unsplash

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Canadian Plastic Registry will monitor and track plastic from its production to its end of life to reduce plastic waste.

In 2019, Canadians threw away over 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste, where only 9 percent was recycled. The plastic waste that isn’t properly disposed of is burned in incinerators, contributing to climate change and air pollution or ending up in the environment as litter.  

Canada also formerly shipped its plastic waste to other countries but didn’t keep track of its plastic to see what happened to it. Moreover, some countries like China have stopped accepting plastic waste from Canada because they no longer want the materials. Canada also doesn’t have the resources to properly transform and repurpose the plastic it collects, so it has historically heavily depended on shipping it to other countries.  

In an effort to address the plastic waste problem in Canada, the government is implementing a new Canadian Plastic Registry to reduce plastic pollution and move toward a circular plastics economy. 

The Canadian Plastic Registry would require producers to report annually on the quantity and type of plastic they place on the Canadian market. The producers would also have to provide information on how that plastic moves through the economy and how it is managed at the end of its life. The Federal Plastics Registry would track all plastic items that are produced in Canada, including food and beverage containers, clothing, household appliances and more.  

The Government of Canada would use the information collected from the Canadian Plastic Registry to measure the progress toward zero plastic waste and inform actions to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The Canadian Plastic Registry would be available openly to Canadians and businesses. The Government of Canada believes that this new tool will help support provinces and territories move towards a circular economy for plastics. 

One way the Canadian Plastic Registry can help producers ensure their products are reused or recycled is a deposit scheme. Consumers and other users would pay a deposit on the plastic contained in a product. When it is returned to an authorized facility to be recycled, the deposit is returned. This is already happening with alcohol and soft drink containers in Canada. Every Canadian province enforces deposit laws on specific beverage containers.

In 2020, Quebec broadened its bottle bill regulations to encompass all beverage containers sized between 100 mL and 2 liters. The containers have a deposit associated with them that the purchaser pays at the time of purchase, this is refunded once they return the container either at the store, a collection point, or a specially designed machine. Some restaurants across Canada are also adding deposits to food containers to encourage customers to bring them back so they can be washed and reused.  

The Canadian Plastic Registry is still in its infancy, but the Government is hoping to pilot it at the beginning of 2025 before officially launching it in 2028. The Federal Plastics Registry could have a significant impact in two ways.  

The first is that plastic producers might decide that it might make more financial sense just to move away from manufacturing plastic altogether and develop more sustainable products for the planet.  The second impact is that if this tracking plan goes through (which might be a good short-term alternative), Canada will see less plastic waste ending up in landfills and will have less of a financial burden to deal with where to move or how to use plastic waste. The country will be able to achieve the circular economy they are striving for.  

The Canadian Plastic Registry is an innovative way to help reduce plastic waste and repurpose and reuse existing plastic. If this plan goes through, it will have significant impacts for Canada but might also encourage other countries to implement a similar plan.  

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