According to the federal government’s release, these measures will be based in scientific evidence and “will align, where appropriate, with similar actions being taken in the European Union and other countries.” This will support the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.
"Many of our members have already invested in alternative packaging solutions and we are keen to ensure that the impacts of these choices, on food safety, on quality and on sustainability, are understood by our members, the government and the consumer," says Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG). "We have recently engaged with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s Plastic Packaging Working Group; a multi-stakeholder group aimed at developing science-based recommendations for addressing single-use plastics in the produce sector. In addition, OGVG continues to research solutions that ensure a transition pathway is in place to reduce the use of single-use plastics throughout the entirety of greenhouse operations. By taking a comprehensive supply chain approach we hope to meet consumer demand for fresh, healthy and sustainable produce through the use of alternative packaging solutions."
In a recent study by Dalhousie University, it was shown that biodegradable and compostable solutions were most popular among Canadians. However, the study also showed that Canadians were not willing to pay a premium above 2.5 per cent for a solution to single-use plastics at retail. Currently, only one in two survey participants actively look for non-plastic packaging, even though over 93 per cent say they are personally motivated to reduce single-use plastic food packaging due to environmental impacts.
As part of their recommendations, Dalhousie researchers recommend incentivizing the use of compostable packaging, encouraging use of recyclable materials, and better alignment between food safety regulations and agri-food sector's environmental obligations at all levels of government, among other steps.
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According to the federal government, Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, representing up to $8 billion per year in lost value and wastes resources and energy. About one-third of the plastics used in Canada are for single-use or short-lived products and packaging. Over the last 25 years, nearly 800,000 volunteers have removed over 1.3 million kilograms of trash from across Canada’s shorelines through Ocean Wise and World Wildlife Fund’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup program, supported by the Government of Canada. The most commonly littered items on our shorelines are single-use or short-lived products, many made of plastics.
As part of the larger zero plastic waste strategy, the federal government says they will be working with the provincial and territorial governments to develop Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, ensuring that companies manufacturing plastic products or selling items with plastic packaging are responsible for managing the collection and recycling of their plastic waste. Targets will be set for plastics collection, recycling, and recycled content requirements.