The Government of Canada intends to add certain Plastic Manufactured Items to the list of substances appearing on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), fulfilling the Trudeau Government’s commitment to act on plastic waste released into the Canadian environment. Importantly, the listing functions as a regulatory mechanism and necessary first step for later enacting prohibitions on certain plastic wastes, but does not, in and of itself, prohibit the sale or use of any plastic consumer or industrial products.
The Proposed Order, which is expected to become effective in 2021, amends Schedule 1 to list Plastic Manufactured Items as a class of materials considered by the Canadian Government to be toxic under CEPA, Canada’s primary environmental protection act. In support of the Proposed Order, the Canadian Government compiled a Science Assessment on Plastic Pollution, which outlines the bases for the conclusions that plastic pollution is an ongoing problem that requires mitigation under CEPA, and that such pollution poses an actual or potential risk of harm to the environment and human or animal health.
The addition of Plastic Manufactured Items to Schedule 1 authorizes the Canadian Government to propose and implement policies, consistent with CEPA, that are designed to address and mitigate plastic pollution throughout the supply chain, including: manufacturing, transportation, commerce, consumption, and disposal. Despite the Government’s actions, however, a significant amount of confusion regarding the scope and intent of future regulatory actions remains to be addressed; in the meantime, numerous industry associations have submitted comments expressing concerns over the method of regulatory action, the lack of specificity and corresponding consequences that may result from such activity, and potential commercial and international trade impacts. The provinces of Alberta and Ontario have expressed some of these same concerns.