Ottawa wants clearer labeling for recyclables

Stephane Rolland, The Canadian Press

TERREBONNE, QC — Canadians could have access to clearer guidance on recycling. The federal government will launch a consultation with a view to adopting legislation to this effect, announced the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, on Monday.

The labels are a source of confusion for households, explained Minister Guilbeault at a press conference in Terrebonne. Even he, a former Greenpeace activist and co-founder of Équiterre, admits that he doesn’t find his way around sometimes.

“I don’t know about you, but I often look at something and there it’s not clear, he explained. There, I have to go and see the city’s website. There, we want it to be super simple, super easy.

These new labeling rules would prevent the use of the three curved arrows symbol if less than 80% of Canadians have access to recycling systems accepting these products, the minister announced. « What we want to do is standardize so that it’s much easier to recycle across the country. »

The labeling rules would also regulate the use of terms like ‘compostable’ and ‘biodegradable’ on plastic products, and require such products to be certified by a third party.

“We have a very large disparity in the country of products that are recycled, recyclable. So, certain products are theoretically recyclable in certain regions, but are not recycled because there are no facilities. In other cases, it is products that are difficult to recycle that end up in the recycling chain that will contaminate (the materials at the sorting center).

Ottawa also wants to increase the standards on the amount of recyclable material contained “in a certain number of plastics”. “The consultations aim to determine which products will be targeted.”

This announcement is part of the federal government’s intention to achieve a goal of zero plastic waste by 2030.

The federal government hopes the regulations will increase the share of plastic waste that is actually recycled. In 2018, Canadian households got rid of 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste. Only 8% was recycled.

Ottawa also wants to develop a registry of producers of manufactured plastic items. “The federal registry we are proposing would harmonize data collection and make it open and accessible in one place.”

Citizens and stakeholders have until October 7 to submit their comments.


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