Government proposing to declare manufactured plastic items ‘toxic’ under CEPA

Government proposing to declare manufactured plastic items ‘toxic’ under CEPA

On October 10, 2020 the Government published in Canada Gazette Part 1, a proposed Order to add "plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1, the List of Toxic Substances, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).

The designation of plastic manufactured items as "toxic” under CEPA is a necessary regulatory step towards the government’s goal (announced in its September 23 Throne Speech) of achieving zero plastic waste by 2030. As a preliminary, the government released its final "Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution” on October 7, 2020. The assessment confirms that plastic pollution is everywhere and is negatively impacting our environment.

To combat this, CEPA provides tools to address pollution at all stages of a product’s lifecycle, including manufacture, import, sale, use and disposal. As a further part of the government’s plan the government announced on October 7, 2020 that it is implementing a ban on single-use plastic items such as plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics. The full list of items subject to the ban is published in a discussion paper titled Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution, which was also released on October 7, 2020. In addition, the Government announced that it plans to establish pan-Canadian recycled content requirements in products and packaging to ensure that rules are consistent and to make sure that producers and sellers of plastic products are held responsible for collection and recycling under a uniform model of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Plastic is omnipresent in every aspect of our lives and any real initiative to target plastic waste will impact businesses, and day to day lives. While this initial phase is targeting consumer items, it will be interesting to see how this initiative evolves.

The deadline for comment on both the Canada Gazette Order and the discussion document is December 9, 2020. Access the discussion paper at:

Canadian Water and Wastewater Association