The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) has released the second and final phase of its Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste. Together, the two phases represent a comprehensive action plan to implement the Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste, which the CCME approved in principle on November 23, 2018.
The first phase dealt with issues that required actions along the life-cycle of plastics to increase their recovery in the economy: product design, single-use plastics, collection systems, recycling capacity and domestic markets for recycled material.
The second phase, which the CCME approved on July 23, 2020, deals with actions intended to reduce plastic pollution, such as improving awareness, managing plastics in aquatic activities (such as fishing), capture and clean-up programs, advancing plastics science and contributing to global action.
Canada has been a leader in the global movement to curb plastics use, putting the Ocean Plastics Charter on the table of the 2018 G7 meeting that was endorsed by five of seven members (the United States and Japan did not sign on). However, momentum stalled when the COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to concerns about reusable products. The anti-plastics movement has pushed back, most recently with a statement signed by 129 health experts from 20 countries attesting to the safety of reusables when standard hygiene measures are followed.
Implementation of the Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste is the responsibility of the federal government and the respective provincial and territorial jurisdictions, and they have agreed on a timeline, with most actions having deadlines through 2025.
The CCME will present its first update on progress at is 2021 meeting, and will prepare a full report on implementation of both phases in 2026.