Environment Ministers take action on plastic waste in Canada

June 27, 2019 in News

Halifax, NS – June 27, 2019 – Federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers in attendance today released the first phase of the action plan to implement the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste, which aims to reduce plastic waste across Canada. The action plan lays out concrete measures to achieve the vision of keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment.

“Canadians are more and more aware of the need to generate less waste. Addressing plastics is one of the many ways we can better protect the environment and strengthen our communities,” said Gordon Wilson, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment, who hosted his colleagues in Halifax.

“Nova Scotia has a strong record on environmental protection, building a greener economy, and waste reduction. It’s been a pleasure to host my colleagues from across the country to share our successes and discuss new solutions.”

The action plan outlines priority actions and timelines on: consistent extended producer responsibility programs for plastics; a roadmap to address single-use and disposable plastics; performance requirements and standards; incentives that support a circular economy; infrastructure and innovation investments; and guidelines and tools to green government procurement practices. In particular, the action plan recognizes that extended producer responsibility is one of the most effective mechanisms for managing many types of plastic waste, including packaging.

A range of stakeholders and interested parties provided input into the development of the action plan. This included those involved in the creation, manufacturing and sale of plastic pellets, packaging and products along with its collection, processing and end-of-life management, academics, non-government organizations, Indigenous organizations and municipalities.

The action plan will be implemented collaboratively and within the jurisdictional authority of each order of government. It recognizes the shared responsibility between jurisdictions for preventing plastic waste and provides flexibility for jurisdictions to implement actions that meet their unique individual needs. The plan also recognizes the roles of industry, communities and consumers, and supports the innovation that is required to reduce plastic waste.

Ministers directed officials to develop the second phase of the action plan for consideration at their 2020 meeting. It will focus on preventing plastic pollution in oceans, inland lakes and waterways, including the Great Lakes, advancing science to monitor the impacts of plastics pollution within the environment, building consumer awareness, launching clean-ups, and taking global action.

Ministers discussed the various strategies that provinces, territories and the federal government are taking to tackle climate change. They also received a presentation on Canada’s Changing Climate Report, highlighting how our climate has changed and the changes that we can expect, and discussed how natural infrastructure can assist communities to adapt to climate change; and the opportunities to promote and implement natural infrastructure in Canada to help store carbon and build resilience to the changing climate. They also shared information on the actions their governments are taking to address climate change and reduce impacts associated with extreme weather and other climate impacts.

Ministers approved new Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for ozone for 2025. These standards will help reduce concentrations of ground-level ozone, a main component of smog, which is linked to premature death, breathing problems, cardiovascular effects and hospital admissions for children and the elderly. CAAQS are benchmarks for air quality and are a part of the Air Quality Management System (AQMS), a comprehensive and harmonized approach to improve air quality across Canada.

Québec supports the general objectives of AQMS, but is not taking part in its implementation because it has already implemented its own air quality regulation. However, Québec is collaborating with jurisdictions on developing some elements of the system, notably air zones, airsheds and CAAQS.

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) Program. Today ministers announced their intent to renew the NAPS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Federal, provincial and territorial governments use air quality data from the NAPS Program to assess and report on air quality and to develop programs to address air quality issues.

Today ministers launched a website to provide information to Canadians on the implementation of the Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent. Ministers also discussed opportunities for further collaboration under this Strategy.

Québec agrees with the environmental and public health objectives of the Strategy, but has not endorsed it.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments and municipalities have invested over $11 billion since 2002 in wastewater infrastructure upgrades, with significant additional investments planned over the next decade. Ministers recognized the importance of measures to manage wastewater to protect the water quality of lakes, rivers and oceans.

At the end of the meeting, Saskatchewan assumed the presidency of CCME and will host the 2020 CCME meeting.

About CCME

CCME is the primary minister-led intergovernmental forum for collective action on environmental issues of national and international concern. CCME is comprised of the environment ministers from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. It was founded in 1964. www.ccme.ca


Michael Goeres
Executive Director
CCME Secretariat
(204) 948-2172
Lisa Jarrett 
Media Relations Advisor 
Nova Scotia Environment
(902) 478-9954

CCME-COM 2019 group photo Photo Credit: Communications Nova Scotia
Left to right: Honourable Robert C. McLeod (NT), Honourable Rochelle Squires (MB), Honourable Gordon Wilson (NS), Honourable Jeff Yurek (ON), Honourable Catherine McKenna (CA), Monsieur Benoit Charette (QC), Honourable Jeff Carr (NB), Honourable George Heyman (BC), Honourable Dustin Duncan (SK)
Not in Photo: Honourable Jason Nixon (AB), Honourable Joe Savikataaq (NU), Honourable Lisa Dempster (NL), Honourable Brad Trivers (PE), Honourable Pauline Frost (YK)