More than 40 Canadian companies, governments and environmental groups unveiled a plan 27 Jan. to recycle or compost 50 percent of the country's plastic packaging by 2025 and take other steps to improve its environmental performance.
The Canada Plastics Pact, which joins eight similar agreements worldwide, said it will also develop plans to boost recycled content in plastics packaging and work to phase out what it called "problematic" packaging materials.
It's seen as a way for companies that are large plastic packaging users, including Coca-Cola Canada and Unilever Canada, to work with plastics companies and associations, as well as the federal agency Environment and Climate Change Canada and the waste management industry.
In some ways, the announcement is more of a statement of principles than an action plan, but the group said it would now develop a road map to achieve its goals.
"With an eye for bold systematic change, the CPP will work to eliminate the plastics we don't need, innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable or compostable, and circulate the plastic we use, keeping it the economy and out of the environment," the group said.
Several of the pact's goals are very similar to those in the U.S. Plastics Pact, which was announced in August, and include many of the same global consumer product makers as members.
Both pacts call for 50 percent of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted and set a 30 percent goal for recycled content by 2025.
Both pacts also target having 100 percent of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable in that time frame, as well as developing a list of "problematic or unnecessary" plastic packaging to eliminate.
CPP said it was starting with packaging because that accounts for 47 percent of plastic waste.
"The retail and consumer goods industry generates one-third of plastic waste," said Galen Weston, CEO of supermarket chain Loblaw Companies Ltd., a pact member. "We develop, package and sell the products, so it's in our control. We know more can be done to reduce plastic waste and that we need progressive policies and systems that keep plastics out of nature."
The pact comes three months after the Canadian government announced details on a nationwide ban on a few single-use plastics and tighter regulations on other plastic products, including recycled content and producer responsibility.
In a video with the pact announcement, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson repeated statements from that October ban announcement, that taking major steps to improve plastics circularity will eliminate 1.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year and create 42,000 jobs.
"The newly launched Canada Plastics Pact represents an important step forward in the conversation about plastics," Wilkinson said. The group also included a local government member, Metro Vancouver.
Other founding members of the pact include EFS Plastics Inc. and Merlin Plastics, along with the Circular Plastics Task Force, which according to its website includes the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada and its plastics division. In a statement, the task force said it was joining as an implementation partner.
"We believe multi-stakeholder collaboration is key to optimise the plastics recycling value chain and identify solutions that will lead to systemic change," the task force said.