National Plastics Registry | Ottawa will hold plastics manufacturers accountable every year

National Plastics Registry | Ottawa will hold plastics manufacturers accountable every year
National Plastics Registry | Ottawa will hold plastics manufacturers accountable every year

(Ottawa) Canada is seeking to better control the amount of plastic produced in the country by requiring companies that manufacture it to report annually on what they produce.


Published at 12:25 p.m.

Updated at 7:19 p.m.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced Monday the creation of a national plastics registry on the eve of the start of negotiations on a global treaty to end plastic waste on Tuesday in Ottawa.

Minister Guilbeault is a key player in these negotiations, which aim to establish an international agreement to eliminate plastic waste by 2040.

Canadians throw away more than four million tonnes of plastic each year, and less than a tenth is actually recycled.

The register, which will be implemented gradually over the coming years, will first apply to manufacturers of plastic packaging, single-use and disposable products, as well as electronic equipment. It is planned to expand it in the coming years to cover producers of resins, tires and agricultural products.

Companies that produce or import plastic into Canada will have to report each year the quantity they put on the market, as well as the quantity of plastic waste they generate. This involves reporting how much is sent for recycling or reuse, versus how much is simply thrown away.

This register will make plastic producers more responsible for what they put on the market, according to the federal Minister of the Environment.

“What we seek to do with this register is to guarantee more transparency on the production and use of plastics. It’s difficult to tackle a problem if you don’t know what it is, where it is and what it’s used for,” said Mr. Guilbeault.

The announcement is the first in a series of national actions the Trudeau government plans to take on plastics this week, as delegates from more than 170 countries gather in downtown Ottawa in hopes of making progress a global treaty on plastics.

This is a “once in a generation opportunity,” according to Steven Guilbeault. “If we do not act, we will leave an environmental disaster as a legacy for future generations,” he argued.

There is growing evidence of the physical harm caused by all plastics. Production has almost doubled in 20 years and plastic itself never really disappears. Instead, it breaks down into microparticles that end up in water, food and air.

Microplastics can cause several health problems, including hormonal disruptions, cancers and infertility.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, stressed Monday that the treaty should, to succeed, have clear, measurable goals, as well as specific deadlines and an agreement that problematic plastics and those for single use must be gradually eliminated.

She also argued that recycling should be improved and that the treaty should address “chemicals of concern” used to make plastic.

“We are on the verge of reaching a fair and ambitious treaty that addresses this complete life cycle,” she says.

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