Canada's government is considering banning the chasing arrows symbol from all plastic items unless they're accepted in at least 80 percent of Canada's recycling facilities, the latest sign of stepped-up government concern over recyclability marketing
The agency Environment Canada disclosed the labeling plan June 20, during an announcement that it would start enforcing its long-discussed nationwide ban on six types of single-use plastics, including checkout bags and cutlery, in December.
Canadian government officials, including Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, held a series of media and public events around the country to kick off the ban.
First proposed several years ago, Canada's ban covers the manufacture, import and eventual export of bags, cutlery and foodservice items that are "problematic" to recycle, including straws, stir sticks and beverage carrier rings.
"By the end of the year, you won't be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics," Guilbeault said. "After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that's paper straws or reusable bags."
Government officials have repeatedly discussed the single-use ban and in December had proposed draft regulations, but the EC press release also included new details on next steps like the labeling rules.
The agency said it wanted to crack down on putting the chasing arrows symbol on plastics if the recycled materials did not have strong end markets.
"In early summer, the [government] will begin to consult on approaches to a federal public plastic registry and the development of labelling rules that would prevent the use of the chasing arrows symbol on plastic items unless at least 80 percent of recycling facilities in Canada accept them and they have reliable end markets," Environment Canada said.
It said the consultation would also include labelling rules for composting of plastic products.
While details are not clear, an 80 percent threshold for using chasing arrows would appear to go beyond U.S. regulations like the Federal Trade Commission's Green Guides, which generally requires products to be recyclable to at least 60 percent of consumers to make marketing claims.
The plan's call for a "federal public plastic registry" appears to be designed to support producer responsibility programs.
A website by Canada's Liberal Party, which controls the government, on its strategy for zero plastics waste by 2030 mentions a registry and discusses requiring "producers to annually report the amount, type and end-of-life management for plastics in the Canadian economy" as part of producer responsibility programs.
The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada declined to comment on the labeling aspect of the government's announcement because it will be going through a public consultation.
Some state government officials in the U.S. are also stepping up actions on labeling.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong on June 14 sued Reynolds Consumer Products over recyclability marketing claims of some of its Hefty bag products, and Oregon's Truth in Labeling Task Force, created under plastics legislation that passed in 2021, recently made recommendations to the state legislature.
As well, California last year passed a widely watched law that will significantly tighten recyclability marketing claims for plastic packaging.