Canada takes first step toward much-needed regulatory action to address plastic pollution - Oceana Canada

Canada takes first step toward much-needed regulatory action to address plastic pollution

Press Release Date: May 12, 2021

Environmental groups urge government to proceed quickly with promised ban on non-essential single-use plastics

TORONTO — Environmental groups applaud Canada’s decision today to list “plastic manufactured items” on Schedule 1 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and urge the federal government to move quickly to finalize a meaningful ban on non-essential single-use plastics by the end of 2021.

Today’s action gives the federal government the authority to regulate plastic products to keep them out of incinerators, landfills and the environment, including a national ban on single-use plastic items, such as checkout bags, take-out containers, straws, stirrers, cutlery and six-pack rings. The listing is a critical step in Canada’s plan to address the growing plastic pollution crisis, enabling regulations that would reduce unnecessary plastic use, and support a non-toxic, low-carbon circular economy.

Plastic pollution has been identified by the United Nations as the second most ominous threat to the global environment after climate change. Every year, more than three million tonnes of plastic waste is thrown away in Canada, with 91 per cent ending up in landfills, incinerators or directly in the natural environment. 

Canada has an opportunity to join other global leaders in the fight to end the plastic disaster. Many countries around the world have already banned certain single-use plastic items and 170 countries have pledged to significantly reduce plastic use by 2030. The European Union’s single-use plastic ban will be in force this summer.


Ashley Wallis, Oceana Canada:

“Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson’s decision to add plastics to CEPA’s Schedule 1 puts us one step closer to ending the fatal flow of plastic into our oceans. The federal government needs to use every tool in the toolbox to end the growing plastic disaster, including a strong ban on single-use plastic items. Ninety-five per cent of Canadians are concerned about the impact plastic pollution has on our oceans and 86 per cent support a ban on single-use plastics. The time to act is now.” 

Karen Wirsig, Environmental Defence

“Plastic pollution is a global crisis and it’s gotten worse during the pandemic, with a whopping 250 to 300 per cent increase in single-use plastics alone. The Canadian government must do its part and stand up to companies that profit from pumping plastics into our environment. That’s why we support the minister in standing firm on his intention to regulate plastics under CEPA. The clock is ticking. We’ve got to act now.”

Lisa Gue, David Suzuki Foundation:

“Now that the government has confirmed the listing of “plastic manufactured items” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Canada can move forward with regulatory action to tackle plastic pollution. We were appalled to learn that dozens of industry interests attempted to block this first step, and we’re grateful that the environment minister is standing firm.”

Dr. Elaine MacDonald, Ecojustice:

“Plastic waste is entering the natural environment in huge volumes, and it’s the most widespread pollutant of our oceans, waterways and soil. There is mounting evidence of plastics contaminating our drinking water and food supply. We welcome the minister’s move to list plastics on CEPA’s Schedule 1 as an important first step in tackling this global problem.”

Emily Alfred, Toronto Environmental Alliance:

“Every community across Canada is facing the growing problem of plastic waste in our water, land and air.  We can’t recycle our way out of this, we need to prevent plastic waste and shift to a truly circular economy built on reusables. We’re happy to see the federal government take this first key step towards banning unnecessary single-use plastics to address the plastics crisis.”

For more information or to request an interview:

Tammy Thorne, Communications, Oceana Canada,, 437.247.0954

Environmental Defence,, 647.280.9521

Brendan Glauser, Communications, David Suzuki Foundation,, 604.356.8829

Sean O’Shea, Communications, Ecojustice,, 416.368.7533 ext. 523