Canada is taking action to protect the environment and reduce plastic pollution across the country with a comprehensive approach. This includes moving toward a circular economy that keeps plastic in the economy and out of the environment through activities such as better product design; higher rates of repair, remanufacturing, and recycling; and advancing science and community actions to reduce plastic pollution.
Government of Canada added plastic manufactured items to Schedule 1 of the CEPA, 1999 as a toxic substance. A toxic substance is a substance that poses a risk to the environment, human health, or both. There is strong support from Canadians to address the issue of plastic pollution and plastic waste.
The Government of Canada recognizes the central role played by provinces and territories in reducing plastic waste and eliminating plastic pollution, and has worked with its provincial and territorial counterparts on the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to develop the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.
The Government of Canada has the authority to regulate and authorize other instruments to prevent or control the use and/or release of these substances. Substances are added to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 by the Government of Canada based on the Ministers of Environment and Health’s recommendation. For the complete listing of these substances, see Toxic Substances List – Schedule 1.
Plastic manufactured items
Plastic manufactured items are any items made of plastic formed into a specific physical shape or design during manufacture, and have, for their intended use, a function or functions dependent in whole or in part on their shape or design. They can include final products, as well as components of products. All plastic manufactured items have the potential to become plastic pollution. See Table 1 for examples of plastic manufactured items.
A final order adding plastic manufactured items to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 was published. Plastic manufactured items have been added as item 163 to Schedule 1. The List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) includes substances that are considered to be toxic as defined in Section 64 of the act.
- Order adding plastic manufactured items: Canada Gazette, Part II: Vol. 155, No. 10, May 12, 2021.
Several notices of objection and requests for the establishment of a board of review were received following the publication of the proposed order. Responses to these notices have been published. A summary table of public comments received on the proposed order has also been published.
The objective of the Order Adding a Toxic Substance to Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (the Order) is to add “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 to CEPA, which enables the ministers to propose risk management measures under CEPA on certain plastic manufactured items to manage the potential ecological risks associated with those items becoming plastic pollution.
Adding “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) enables the Government of Canada to take regulatory and other risk management actions in support of reaching Canada’s zero plastic waste goal. Banning harmful single-use plastics, where warranted and supported by science, and establishing minimum recycled content requirements, are two actions that will complement the range of other initiatives the government has undertaken to date.
Plastic is a valuable material and resource because of its unrivalled functionality, durability, and low cost. We use plastics in almost all aspects of our lives. In Canada, plastic production is a $35 billion industry employing close to 100,000 people in nearly 2,000 businesses that make and recycle plastic products.
The Government of Canada has initiated a comprehensive agenda to achieve zero plastic waste and eliminate plastic pollution by 2030, which will require implementing a range of risk management measures. The departments determined that non-regulatory measures (e.g. voluntary agreements, guidelines, codes of practice) alone would not be sufficient to implement this agenda, and that regulatory measures would also be required.
Feedback received on the discussion paper describing a proposed integrated management approach for plastic products to prevent waste and pollution, published in October 2020, is being considered in developing proposed regulations to ban or restrict certain single-use plastics, and in developing proposed recycled content requirements. The proposed regulations to ban or restrict certain single-use plastics are expected to be published for public comment in the Canada Gazette, Part I this fall.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has conducted an analysis of available data to determine which items meet the requirements for a proposed ban or restriction. Items were identified using the information sources to provide a preliminary list of products that may be environmentally or value-recovery problematic, and which merited further analysis through a management framework for single-use plastics: bags, packaging not necessary for the protection of food or goods, including: cosmetic and personal care products and packaging: plastic packaging used in aquaculture and coastal industries: food packaging, food packaging and service ware foamed plastics, coffee pods, plastics used in medical applications, including personal protective equipment: cigarette filters, contact lenses and packaging, food service ware. Banning or restricting certain harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021.
This is an important piece of Canada’s comprehensive Zero Plastic Waste agenda.
Canada is taking action to protect the environment and reduce plastic pollution across the country with a comprehensive approach. This includes moving toward a circular economy that keeps plastic in the economy and out of the environment through activities such as better product design; higher rates of repair, remanufacturing, and recycling; and advancing science and community actions to reduce plastic pollution. These actions will help Canada reduce plastic pollution, create economic opportunities to recover the value of used plastics and achieve our goal of zero plastic waste by 2030.
Plastic Pollution – information sheet
Toward Zero Plastic waste
Please direct questions to the following contacts by email at:
Acting Executive Director
Program Development and Engagement Division
Department of the Environment
Substances Management Information Line:
Telephone: 1‑800‑567‑1999 (toll-free in Canada)
or 819‑938‑3232 (outside of Canada)
Plastic and Marine Litter Division
Department of the Environment
Risk Management Bureau
Department of Health