Plastics packaging in Canada currently contains 10 percent post-consumer content, by weight, while the industry's goal is to reach 30 percent by 2025.
That was one of the findings in the Canada Plastics Pact's 2020 Baseline Report, released July 7. The report outlines the plastics packaging landscape in 2020, the year prior to CPP's launch, in order to measure progress toward its 2025 voluntary goals.
"By doing this baseline report, our partners are committed to transparency and setting a baseline, which says what's going on in the Canadian market today and what are the actions or initiatives undertaken by our 41 partners that were with us when the CPP launched in 2021," said Sinead King, CPP director of partner engagement.
"So the report aims to address all targets and plastic waste and pollution by 2025," King said.
CPP has hopes of creating a more circular economy for plastics packaging in Canada. The Ottawa-based organization had 41 partners when it was announced in 2021, and since then it has added about 90 more. The partners all share information and data with CPP.
According to the baseline report, 85 percent of plastics in Canada end up in landfills and in the environment, and 47 percent of that plastic waste comes from packaging. CPP has a goal of bringing these percentages down.
CPP has four main targets: create a list of plastic packaging that is seen as unnecessary and take the correct measures to eliminate these plastics; make 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable; recycle 50 percent of plastic packaging; and have plastic packaging contain 30 percent of recycled content.
To help reach those goals, CPP and its partners plan to decide which plastic packaging is problematic and hope to get rid of them.
According to CPP, 43 percent of plastic packaging on the market in 2020 was designed to be recycled, reused or composted.
"Really positive that these things [were] already underway," King said. "But also, 57 percent of our partners weren't doing that and that's in part why they joined the CPP and how we're working on the way to do more. But almost 50 percent of people are already in that process."
Some 66 percent of the CPP partners said that in 2020, they were taking specific action to eliminate certain types of plastic packaging.
CPP released a list of materials for packaging companies to avoid in April, with its Golden Design Rules for Plastics Packaging. The "problematic" materials to avoid included PVC and polystyrene, and the group also recommended design changes to make in hard-to-recycle formats like flexibles and thermoforms.
While the pact is voluntary, its members include some of the country's largest consumer product makers and retailers, including Coca-Cola Co., Colgate-Palmolive and Walmart Canada.
According to the baseline report, 12 percent of all plastic packaging was recycled in Canada in 2019, but the number was much lower for flexible packaging, only 1 percent.
"This is a very, very low number and highlights how much there is to do particularly within flexible plastics," King said. "[That is] concerning and validates just how important it is that the Plastics Pact exists to keep striving towards progress."
CPP has partners throughout the plastics chain including retailers, brand owners, recyclers, plastics converters, resin producers and government officials. Their data submitted allows for CPP to track if they are going in the right direction. CPP also plans to set goals for moving beyond 2025 for their partners.
CPP is a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Global Plastics Pact network, which allows it to work in close collaboration with Plastic Pacts in other countries, especially the U.S. Plastics Pact, King said.
"It's not going to happen in silos," King said. "It needs to be a global united effort."