Canada recycles just 12 percent of its plastic packaging — about 21 percent of its rigid containers but only 1 percent of its flexible packaging. A new plan released Oct. 21 from some major consumer product companies and other groups, however, hopes to change that.
The Canada Plastics Pact released a road map outlining actions its member companies, including big brands like Coca-Cola Canada and Walmart Canada, will undertake to recycle or compost 50 percent of plastic packaging by 2025 and meet other targets.
Pact leaders acknowledge they have very ambitious goals but say that since the dozens of companies in the group collectively make or sell about 30 percent of the country's plastic packaging, they have some leverage they hope can start to move the market.
"Our hope is that it's not just for the partners in the Canada Plastics Pact but that it's going to help send a signal broadly to the industry, to other brands, to recyclers and waste management companies, to converters, that here's where things are going," said George Roter, CPP managing director.
The report offers a step-by-step timeline of what the pact plans to do to meet targets it announced in January.
One of its four key targets is to identify, by mid-2022, lists of "problematic" plastic packaging that its signatory companies will phase out by 2025, along with boosting recycled content and designing more recyclable packaging.
All told, there are more than 70 companies, organizations and governments who have signed on, including Unilever Canada; Nestlé Canada; the country's largest plastics maker, Nova Chemicals; and the federal agency Environment and Climate Change Canada.
"Our take-make-waste approach to plastics is no longer viable," Roter said. "Plastic packaging is a vital part of daily life; it is high-performing, lightweight and low cost. But currently, over 85 percent of what we produce in Canada each year gets used once and ends up in landfills or the environment."