An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste)

This bill was last introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2021.

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Scot Davidson  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

In committee (Senate), as of June 22, 2021
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to prohibit the export of certain types of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 2, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste)
Feb. 3, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste)

The EnvironmentStatements by Members

June 2nd, 2021 / 2:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is Canadian Environment Week, and it is a great time to remind ourselves that our country's natural beauty needs protection. That is why the Conservative Party released its plan, “Secure the Environment”.

This plan will protect our environment and uphold our commitments without pitting one region against another, the way the Liberal government does. We will ban the disposal of plastic in our oceans thanks to the bill introduced by the member for York—Simcoe.

Bill C-204 would ban the export of plastic waste to other countries to be dumped in the ocean and instead handle it here at home. Sadly, the Liberals oppose the bill and would rather see us export our plastic waste around the world.

The Liberal government sees the environment as a way to create divisions between Canadians. On our side, we will secure the environment and secure the future for all Canadians.

I wish everyone a happy Environmental Week.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise again to speak to Bill C-204, an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the final disposal of plastic waste.

This bill, if enacted, will prohibit the export of plastic waste from Canada for final disposal. The government will not be supporting the legislation for multiple reasons, including because the approach it takes is deeply flawed and unlikely to be effective at addressing the problem it purports to solve, which is the shipment of waste to countries that are unable to handle it.

Let me be clear that the government firmly believes we must handle our waste in an environmentally sound manner both at home and internationally. That is why domestically we have advanced a comprehensive agenda to achieve zero plastic waste. Our approach will ensure we drive a circular economy for plastics; that means keeping plastics in our economy and out of our environment. Our comprehensive approach includes banning harmful single-use plastics, where warranted, supported by science.

Specifically, we are proposing to ban six items that have been shown to be prevalent in the environment causing harm, are difficult to recycle and where readily available alternatives exist. These items are plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and foodware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

However, our approach is not just about bans. We know that plastics are a valuable commodity and that we need to be better managing them at the end of their useful life. That is why we are working with provinces and territories to advance extended producer responsibility, which will make plastic producers responsible for their plastic waste.

Additionally, we are working toward the introduction of minimum recycled content standards for plastic products. This approach will ensure that we keep the plastics we use in Canada in the Canadian economy and not export them. These actions will drive the transition to a more circular economy. This will not only reduce pressure on the environment, but will also increase competitiveness, stimulate innovation and create jobs.

To this end, Canada will host the World Circular Economy Forum later this year. The WCEF recognizes that truly competitive solutions are born when the economy and the environment go hand in hand, a phrase the Conservatives have recently adopted. The WCEF brings together a broad range of stakeholders, including policy-makers, business leaders and other experts. The WCEF explores the world's best circular economy solutions, with the aim of accelerating the global transition of a circular economy.

Organized for the first time in North America, the WCEF 2021 in Canada will bring dynamic new voices to the global conversation on a circular economy and take an in-depth look at circular opportunities in a North American global context. It will also offer an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Canada's progress on plastics and explore the systemic changes needed to accelerate the global circulation transition.

The WCEF seeks to position the circular economy as a tool to help us respond to the challenges we face from the pandemic as well as the crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, including that of plastic pollution. We want to play our part as responsible global citizens, which is why we are following through on new international controls on trade in plastic waste and taking a leadership role on plastic on the international stage.

These controls, advanced under Basel Convention on transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal, will ensure that we are not exporting our waste to countries that are not able to manage it in an environmentally sound manner.

Recently, Canada ratified amendments under the Basel Convention respecting the control of plastic waste. These amendments include within the scope of the convention certain non-hazardous and non-recyclable plastic waste, like mixing or contaminated plastic waste and certain resins and PVC.

The Basel amendments on plastic waste also clarify that hazardous plastic waste is covered by the convention. With the amendments, prior and informed consent must be obtained before plastic waste covered by the convention can be exported. The purpose of the amendments is to contribute to a cleaner trade of plastic waste globally by controlling exports of plastic waste to countries that face challenges to properly manage it.

These controls effectively make Bill C-204 redundant, because Canada is already implementing effective controls on the movement of plastic waste. Further, Bill C-204 would have the effect of creating two sets of potentially conflicting requirements for plastic waste exports in Canada: those captured under this bill and those captured under the Basel Convention.

Last, Bill C-204 would leave the much larger issue of plastic waste destined for recycling unaddressed. If the member's intent was to address plastic waste exports to countries that were unable to manage them in an environmentally sound manner, the bill would be unlikely to address this problem.

The federal government is implementing a comprehensive agenda to manage our plastic waste both domestically and internationally. In contrast, Bill C-204 would be ineffective at addressing the problem it purports to solve. It would be problematic to administer and enforce and it would very likely create conflicting requirements with respect to Canada's management of plastic waste exports. As I have also said, it is unnecessary. Canada is already implementing controls under the Basel Convention to ensure we are managing our waste in a responsible manner, so it is not being exported to countries that are unable to manage it.

Given these considerations, the government remains opposed to the legislation. I hope my opposition colleagues will re-evaluate their support for the legislation, given the arguments I have advanced today.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House, especially to talk about the environment and how we must move forward on protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gases.

I have to say that it is rather refreshing to see members of the Conservative Party introduce environmental bills. Although it lacks some teeth and is still timid, it is a good step forward, and I thank the hon. member for York—Simcoe for his work.

On the other hand, I would say that it is rather discouraging to see the Liberals oppose this bill.

I would remind the House that the bill seeks to prohibit the export to foreign countries of certain types of plastic waste for final disposal. This makes sense to us.

In Canada right now, we should be able to recycle all the plastic waste we produce. No plastic waste should be destined for final disposal. Unfortunately, the reality is that this is not the case.

Still, a number of things happened during the study in committee, and it is clear that the bill is not perfect.

For example, it could have been improved by an opposition amendment proposing that the prohibition “not apply to plastic waste consisting exclusively of one non-halogenated polymer or resin”, certain other types of polymers and other materials that I will not list because they have rather complicated names, “provided the plastic waste is destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner”.

As I said, Canada does not recycle all of its plastic waste. Countries like the United States, by contrast, have technology that allows them to recycle certain types of plastic waste. The amendment would have allowed us to continue, for example, to export certain types of plastic waste to the United States, on the condition that they be recycled in an environmentally sound manner.

Unfortunately, the amendment was rejected, but the bill still works, so long as there is a provision in clause 1(1.3) that allows the government to amend the list of plastic wastes set out in Schedule 7. This schedule would thus allow the government to exclude the prohibition of certain plastics destined for export to the United States to be recycled there.

It is not perfect, but at least it allows the bill to pass muster. It is a good bill and the Bloc Québécois remains in favour of its adoption.

However, we need to acknowledge that we might not necessarily be tackling the right problem, and we need to go further. The fact is, we need to produce less waste and be able to dispose of the waste we do produce ourselves. This bill once again highlights the Liberals' doublespeak on environmental issues.

On the one hand, the government wants to ban straws and four or five other single-use plastics. That is great, but it is not nearly enough. On the other hand, it wants to keep sending its garbage to other countries, without worrying about it being used as fuel or ending up in the environment.

Why does the government refuse to accept responsibility and manage its own waste?

Is it because that would be too embarrassing, since it would reveal the enormous amount of plastic we produce, import, use and throw away? It is a valid question.

It is clear that we need to do more than the provisions of Bill C‑204 because that is what is needed to tackle the climate crisis. As a rich country, we have a duty to lead by example. The next generation is watching us and will judge the government by its actions, not just the speeches it makes.

Prohibiting the export of our waste is important, we can all agree on that, but the thing that requires more urgent action is the production of that waste. It seems pretty clear that the limitation of Bill C‑204 is that it does not get to the heart of the problem. We must absolutely reduce our production of plastic waste.

Look at the production and distribution of single-use plastic. Why is that still allowed? We definitely need to rethink the way we manage the life cycle of materials in our economy.

If the government really wants to take action on this issue and walk the green talk, it should transfer funds to Quebec and the provinces that, like Quebec, are already implementing a strategy of extended producer responsibility. The transfers should come with no strings attached because the provinces are entirely capable of finding winning solutions to this incredible challenge. In fact, the federal government must act now to give recycling companies the means to recycle more complex plastic products.

There is a very real and urgent need to reduce our production and consumption of single-use plastics. Municipalities in my riding understand the urgency and are already doing their part.

In 2020, the mayors of the 34 municipalities in the RCMs of La Mitis and La Matapédia voted to ban single-use plastic bags as of January 1, 2021. Elected officials in La Mitis went one step further: They will ban single-use packaging, such as styrofoam, which is widely found in grocery stores or cafeterias, for instance. Theoretically, RCMs do not have the authority to ban these products. It is, therefore, up to each municipality to adopt a resolution to ban them. On May 17, the Mont‑Joli municipal council got the ball rolling by adopting a bylaw to ban single-use plastics.

I must admit that I am quite proud to represent a region that is already more proactive on environmental issues than the federal government. I hope that municipalities across the country will follow this example and get involved. By doing so, we are taking part in the fight against climate change in a concrete way. Taking action means taking concrete steps that will certainly have a positive impact in the end. I also hope that they will inspire the federal government to take concrete action on a larger scale.

I remind members that one of the most visible consequences of plastic products is the massive amount of waste produced that remains in the environment for years. Small amounts of plastics can be found in the water and in the ground, and they sadly pose a serious threat to wildlife and ecosystems.

We already knew that Canada was a big consumer of single-use plastics, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. In its September 2020 report, Oceana Canada says that Canada currently uses 4.6 million tonnes of plastics every year. That is roughly 125 kilograms per person, which is a massive amount. Experts predict that, by 2030, that number will grow to more than six million metric tonnes of plastic.

Plastic packaging accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste, and the COVID‑19 pandemic is only making things worse. Just think of all of the plastic containers used for takeout meals or the increased use of disposable masks and gloves.

Renowned magazine The Economist, a mostly right-leaning magazine, reported that consumption of single-use plastic may have grown by 250% to 300% in North America during the pandemic, as a result of the increased use of food containers.

Again, according to Oceana Canada, that increase is even more worrisome because most of the plastic used in Canada never gets recycled. The federal government itself estimated the rate of recycling at less than 10% in 2019. The rest mainly ends up in landfills, but it also gets discarded in the environment, in waterways and oceans.

I was saying that we need to rethink how materials circulate. It is important to understand that we need to transition to a circular economy. In a circular logic, the goal is to reduce the environmental footprint while contributing to the well-being of individuals and communities. It is a way to produce, trade and consume goods and services by optimizing the use of resources at all stages of their life cycle. To make that happen on a large scale, we need to rethink our methods of production and consumption in order to use fewer resources and protect the ecosystems that generate them. To that end, we need to extend the lifespan of our products and give them new life.

The circular economy gives priority to the shortest and most local routes. It has many advantages and positive spinoffs. It makes it possible to create wealth by adding value to our raw materials, keeping our raw materials here, promoting the local economy and establishing successful companies. It is a win-win situation.

The federal government should encourage this practice. It is a cycle. We need to produce less, convert our waste into new products, and give those products a second life here instead of sending them overseas.

Oceana Canada has sounded the alarm. Over a 30-year period, Canada exported four million tonnes of plastic waste. That is the weight of 800 blue whales per year. It is a striking image. The organization estimates that Canada's contribution to the global plastic catastrophe is disproportionate. Canada produces up to 3.6 times more plastic waste than some countries in Southeast Asia and almost twice as much as some Scandinavian countries.

It goes without saying that the government must take urgent action. It must ban single-use plastics immediately. Its current plan targets a paltry six products. The government needs to do better or it will not come close to achieving its zero plastic waste goal by 2030.

Earlier, I talked about the circular economy and waste reduction. That is important because recycling is not a panacea. Given the quantity of plastic we produce, getting people to recycle will not cut it. The government needs to do its part, stop talking out of both sides of its mouth and introduce initiatives like my colleague from York—Simcoe's Bill C‑204. I want to reassure my colleague that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of that bill and I thank him again for his work. I hope the debate at second reading will be productive.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to rise today to comment on Bill C-204, an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in the final disposal of plastic waste.

Coming from a coastal community in a country that has the largest coastline in the world, and understanding that a garbage truck of plastic is going into our waterways every minute around the world, one can imagine that combatting plastic pollution is of the utmost priority for anybody who lives in coastal communities. In a country that has the most fresh water per capita in the world, it is something that is very important to all Canadians.

I have risen many times on plastic pollution and raised awareness in the House. I was very fortunate to have the support of my colleagues from all parties in passing my Motion No. 151 to come up with a strategy to combat plastic pollution back in 2018. However, I am happy to see this bill come forward from my enthusiastic colleague from York—Simcoe, who is passionate about the bill and about tackling plastic pollution.

I do have some concerns. Certainly, as Canadians, we are among the largest producers of plastic waste in the world per capita, which means that we need to take greater leadership. It also means that when we bring forward legislation, it needs to be legislation that is going to make a great impact on our reduction of plastic waste and our responsibility when it comes to tackling plastic waste.

Half of the plastic right now in our country is produced from packaging alone. My former colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Nathan Cullen, the new minister of state for British Columbia, tabled a bill about plastic packaging, to eliminate packaging that is absolutely useless.

I was disappointed when government members came up with only six items to ban on single-use plastics. They had an opportunity to stretch that quite a bit further. They did not even ban plastic lids on coffee cups, which can easily be replaced by paper. They have come up with a theory that they are going to take a very small stab at the reduction of plastics and are really going to focus on the creation of and actually growing the plastic industry.

I was glad to hear my colleague previous to me speak about the need for us to reduce and eliminate the use of plastics, especially where it is unnecessary. However, the government's approach is that it is going to take a small stab at reducing a few items and claim that it is going to take real action, but we have not seen the action that is necessary.

We need the government to invest in robust structures across our country when it comes to recycling so that we can do our part when it comes to recycling, but we need to reduce plastics. It is expected that plastic production is going to be over 13% of the overall carbon budget in terms of greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2050. This is something that has to be taken care of, and can be, by good legislation.

Now, it is clear that we need to stop exporting waste to developing countries. We are contributors and responsible for plastic slums that exist in developing nations that do not have the capacity. Canada has decided to ship our waste, or our problem, if we want to call it that, to other countries that do not have the systems in place, and it is ending up in their waterways, river systems and drinking water. Children are living in plastic slums, and it is our responsibility.

In 2016, it is estimated that only 9% of our plastics were actually recycled; 86% were landfilled; 4% were incinerated for energy recovery, and 1% were released directly into the environment. We are failing at a rate that is absolutely alarming, and we know that non-recycled plastic poses a serious threat to our environment and to human health. This is proven. Plastic waste is considered a hazardous substance because of the pollutants it creates, particularly if it is burned. It is not responsible for us to look at burning plastic as a solution in the long term. We have to ensure that we have the infrastructure to deal with it. We know about our history in terms of shipping plastic to other countries.

I do appreciate the spirit of the bill, but I do believe it has been hijacked by industry.

We ship over 44,000 tonnes of plastic to other countries. Members heard me in the House calling out the Canadian government for our failure to deal with garbage that had been left in the Philippines, in Manila. Back in 2019, the government spent over a million dollars bringing illegally shipped garbage back to our country. We had a similar diplomatic dispute with Malaysia. It has been embarrassing.

Not only do we have to be more responsible, but we have to improve diplomatic ties with developing nations around the world by improving our systems and showing responsibility here at home in how we are going to manage our plastic pollution. We also must support those countries in developing their systems, because our oceans are all interconnected. We can do better.

When we look at the legislation that is being brought forward and we see other countries, such as China, pivoting away and not accepting our garbage, it is important that the wealthiest nations, such as ours, take action.

Canada was one of the original signatories to the Basel Convention, which restricts shipping waste to the developing world. Had Canada actually adhered to the Basel Convention and taken leadership, this bill would be completely unnecessary and would not have been brought to the floor of the House of Commons.

We refused to ratify the plastic waste amendments to the Basel Convention initially that would have stopped plastic waste exports, which absolutely needs to happen. Canada has come under fire for continuing to ship plastic to developing nations. We have seen Canada use loopholes and whatnot to ship plastic through other countries that are not signatories to the Basel Convention, such as the United States.

We finally ratified the plastic waste amendments in December of last year. Right now we need the government to use the Basel Convention not as a backdoor agreement with the United States, but to take action in ratifying the Basel Convention, implementing it and demonstrating the leadership that we need to take.

I talked about some of the things happening in our country. Right now, this legislation has huge gaps. It focuses on areas where not all plastics are banned. All plastics should be banned, unless the plastic is going to an OECD country that can take responsibility instead of dumping plastic onto developing nations.

Right now in my riding, the government is looking at going ahead with implementing a shellfish and geoduck licence. They are loaded with microplastics. When PVC tubes break down, they release toxins and microplastic particles into the environment, and these toxins and microplastic particles permanently contaminate the water where the shellfish are growing and where food is growing. We need to make sure that the government is not just looking at what we are currently doing, but also taking action on industrial uses of plastic.

We heard testimony from Dr. Sabaa Khan, the director general for Quebec and Atlantic Canada of the David Suzuki Foundation. I will only have the chance to read a short quote because I see I am running out of time. In reference to this legislation, she said:

To effectively prohibit Canadian plastic waste from being dumped in developing countries, Canada should ratify the Basel ban amendment, which would restrict all hazardous waste exports to non-OECD countries. Bill C-204 should further implement the Basel ban amendment according to best international practice. This would require that the bill be amended to explicitly prohibit export of all plastic wastes to non-OECD countries, except those non-hazardous plastic wastes listed under annex IX of the Basel Convention.

We brought forward two amendments at committee and they were both shot down. The Liberal government filibustered at committee, basically reading into testimony statements from industry that were standing against any sort of amendments to this legislation.

Jim Puckett, who is the executive director for the Basel Action Network, said:

What we're getting at here is that the Basel Convention's latest rules, adopted in 2019, divide plastic into three categories: hazardous plastic, plastics for special consideration and non-hazardous plastics. We would like to see those for special consideration—the mixed and dirty, difficult-to-recycle plastics—controlled for all countries but banned to the developing countries. We can accept the final disposal ban that Mr. Davidson is proposing, because that's very little of the trade, actually, and then add the real problem, as the EU has done, and say that we're not going to export that annex II waste anymore to developing countries.

We need to ban shipping all plastics to developing nations.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-204. It was introduced by my very good friend, the member for York—Simcoe.

This legislation is straightforward, in that it would prohibit the export of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal purposes. Before I discuss the merits of this bill, let me take this opportunity to commend my friend for York—Simcoe for his leadership in bringing it forward.

From the time the hon. member first arrived in this place, following a by-election in 2019, he has been a consistent champion of responsible environmental stewardship. In that regard he has been a tireless advocate for his riding and the beautiful waters of Lake Simcoe, where he has repeatedly and loudly called on the Liberal government to restore the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund. It had been established by the previous Conservative government and was very successful for the span of 10 years before it was arbitrarily and shamefully disbanded by the Liberal government. Equally, the hon. member has been tireless in championing this bill through the second reading stage, the environment committee and now through the third and final reading stage in the House.

This bill presents a unique opportunity for Canada to take a leadership role in combatting the real global environmental challenge of plastics pollution. It is a targeted bill that, quite appropriately, focuses only on plastics that are exported for final disposal. In that regard, it would not affect plastics that are traded for recycling, for example. Speaking of recycling, this bill would provide an opportunity to expand Canada's domestic recycling capacity, given the fact that only 9% of plastic waste is recycled domestically. It would provide an opportunity to grow the circular economy in Canada, with all of the economic and environmental benefits.

Unfortunately, Canada has been part of the problem when it comes to global plastics pollution. Each year, Canada exports approximately 90,000 tonnes of plastic waste. Much of this plastic waste is destined for developing countries, particularly in southeast Asia. Most of these countries have incredibly lax to non-existent environmental and waste management standards. As a result, a considerable volume of plastic waste, even waste that is ostensibly sent for the purpose of recycling, ends up being dumped or burned with devastating environmental consequences.

That problem has only been exacerbated since 2017, when China suddenly banned imports of plastic waste. China had handled approximately 50% of the world's plastic waste. As a result, more plastic waste is being diverted to southeast Asian countries that simply do not have the capacity to properly handle all that they are taking in.

In light of this growing global environmental challenge, many countries are stepping up to the plate to take action. Australia, for example, has passed legislation to ban the export of plastic waste. The United Kingdom and the European Union have made similar commitments.

The Basel Convention, which requires parties to the convention to provide for the procedural mechanism of informed consent respecting the import and export of hazardous and other materials, was amended in 2019 to expressly include solid plastic waste.

In addition to that, some 98 Basel parties amended the Basel Convention with a robust ban to prevent the export of plastic waste to non-OECD developing countries: countries that lack the capacity or do not have appropriate environmental and waste management standards.

As other countries take action, it begs the question of what Canada has done under the Liberals to help combat this problem. Very simply, the government has spent a lot of time talking. We saw, for example, the Liberal-controlled Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development issue a report in 2019 that called for ending the export of plastic waste, which is something this bill seeks to enshrine in law.

Then there is the environment minister, who has repeatedly talked about combatting plastic pollution. For all of the talk on the part of the government, its actions often fly in the face of its lofty rhetoric. This, after all, is a government that has dragged its feet when it comes to ratifying the Basel Convention amendments.

Indeed, it was not until literally the eve of second reading debate on Bill C-204 that the Liberals suddenly and coincidentally announced they would accept the Basel amendment relating to informed consent. It is an amendment that does not prohibit the export of plastic waste. It should be noted the Liberals waited 18 months to announce ratification, and only after 186 countries proceeded before Canada.

The Liberals have refused to adopt the much more robust Basel amendment to block the export of plastic waste to non-OECD developing countries, and at every step of the way, the Liberals have worked to obstruct, block and attempt to defeat my friend's bill, Bill C-204.

While the Liberals talk, Bill C-204 would enshrine in law banning the export of plastic waste to all countries, including the United States. It would close a loophole the Liberals negotiated with the United States that would see plastic waste be exported from Canada to the United States and then to developing countries.

In addition, this bill would have the effect of legislating and enshrining in law the Basel Convention amendments respecting plastic waste. Finally, this legislation would provide teeth: It would provide for an enforcement mechanism, namely the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, to hold violators accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Bill C-204 is an important step for Canada to take to combat the truly global environmental challenge of plastics pollution. Let us get it done. Let us pass Bill C-204.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 5:55 p.m.
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St. Catharines Ontario

Liberal

Chris Bittle LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their review of and engagement with the bill during previous debates in this House and at committee. We are now engaged in the final hour of debate on Bill C-204. This is our last opportunity to consider the merits and drawbacks of the bill before we vote on whether it should proceed to the Senate.

Many substantive concerns have been raised throughout the study and debate on this bill, including by a number of stakeholders. I urge parliamentarians to consider those concerns carefully before deciding on the fate of this bill. I will reiterate the government does not support this bill.

Despite the time spent debating Bill C-204 in the House and studying it at committee, there continues to be some confusion on the aspects of the existing regime in Canada that controls the export of plastic waste for final disposal and recycling. I will use my time to speak to some of those aspects and also to echo some of the comments made by my colleague, the member for Winnipeg South, during the last debate on this bill.

The Government of Canada ratified the Basel Convention on plastic waste amendments as of January 1, 2021. The amendments have been fully implemented through Canada's Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations. Plastic waste destined for recycling and for final disposal are captured by this regime. Therefore, all plastic waste, hazardous and non-hazardous, controlled under the Basel Convention is subject to domestic controls. This means that controls are already in place to ensure Basel-controlled plastic waste is only exported to Basel parties if the importing party provides its consent. The regime that Canada currently implements to manage its plastic waste exports will be considerably more effective than Bill C-204, which narrowly focuses on plastic waste exports destined for final disposal.

During the last debate on this bill, the member for Repentigny stated she would like some clarification on the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, given the United States is not a signatory to the Basel convention.

Similarly, the sponsor of the bill highlighted that the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention and plastic waste exported from its country is not subject to the same controls and further went on to say that environmental groups believe that Canada's plastic waste exports to the United States exploit a significant loophole in our global obligations on plastic waste that directly contravenes international law.

At that time, my colleague, the member for Winnipeg South, provided clarification on the Canada-U.S. regime for Basel-controlled plastic waste. However, since there is still some confusion about that regime, I will reiterate some of the key points with respect to this arrangement.

It is correct the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention. However, the convention contains a provision prohibiting parties like Canada from trading in Basel-controlled waste with non-parties like the United States in the absence of an agreement or arrangement between these countries. That is exactly why Canada and the United States entered into an arrangement that affirms that non-hazardous plastic waste, subject to the convention, circulating between the two countries, is managed in an environmentally sound manner in both countries as per the agreement both countries have in place and intend to maintain the measures that ensure the environmentally sound management of waste. The arrangement is in accordance with the requirements of the Basel Convention.

In addition, the existing Canada-U.S. agreement applies to hazardous waste, including hazardous plastic waste. This agreement requires prior and informed consent to be provided for shipments of hazardous waste between Canada and the U.S.

The government is confident that exports of plastic waste from Canada to the United States are undertaken in a manner that fully respects the international regime. Since January 1, 2021, an export permit is required for the export of plastic waste subject to the Basel Convention when the waste is exported to a party to the Basel Convention. The waste is also subject to the permit process when it is defined or considered hazardous under the legislation of the importing country or if its importation is prohibited under the legislation of the importing country. Thus far, only requests for permits to export plastic waste for recycling have been received by Environment and Climate Change Canada. No requests for permits to export plastic waste for its final disposal have been received.

Rest assured the Government of Canada will continue to assess permit requests in light of the Basel amendments, which have been implemented through comprehensive regulations that provide for the environmentally sound management of waste.

I am pleased to highlight that Environment and Climate Change Canada, in close collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency, participated in Operation DEMETER VI, a successful enforcement operation aimed at tackling the illegal movement of controlled waste, including plastic waste, between countries.

In addition to these actions, Environment and Climate Change Canada work closely with Global Affairs and competent authorities in foreign countries to facilitate the return of controlled plastic waste that were exported without a valid permit and support the work of Canada Border Services Agency agents in this regard.

Finally, predictability is important for a well-functioning regulatory regime. Helpfully, this bill before us would establish a second regime on top of the existing controls that would prohibit the export for final disposal of a subset of plastic waste in Canada. The current regime, which requires the consent of importing countries, is an efficient safeguard that ensures that imports meet domestic requirements of the importing country. As such there is no need to prohibit exports and having two regulatory regimes would create significant operational and implementation challenges. It would likely also be difficult for those under the regulation structure to understand and comply with. The government invests in implementation of international obligations and efforts to increase compliance with a comprehensive set of controls that are already in place for Canada.

In closing, I want to remind colleagues that results will not happen overnight. We are taking the necessary steps along the path, with full implementation of the Basel plastic waste amendments and communication with Canadian stakeholders. On the basis of all this information, I ask parliamentarians to consider the meaningful impact of Bill C-204 on ensuring the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

The government's position is that it is not necessary and that it, instead, creates considerable confusion.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 6 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your generosity. I was not expecting that.

We are debating Bill C‑204 introduced by the Conservative member for York—Simcoe in Ontario. I give him my regards. This bill amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to prohibit the export of certain types of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal.

It is a good start, but there are solutions that we should not dismiss in this debate, including converting non-recyclable waste into biofuel through advanced chemical recycling of products using low-carbon hydroelectricity. Quebec is well placed since it has the necessary hydroelectricity to convert non-recycled waste material into low-carbon second-generation biofuel.

A biofuel plant is being built in Varennes on Montreal's south shore, Recyclage Carbone Varennes, an Enerkem company and an $875‑million project. This plant will process the byproducts of composting, waste recovery or recycling, anything that cannot be recycled or composted, to produce a low-carbon second-generation biofuel. In the world of waste management, support from Recyclage Carbone Varennes will be considerable.

Every year, the facility will convert more than 200 tonnes of non-recyclable materials into almost 125 million litres of biofuel. It will generate $85 million in annual revenues and also create 500 jobs during the facility's construction and provide 100 jobs when operational. I apologize for the advertising, but the company's representatives appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology when we studied the green economic recovery, and I thought it would be useful to provide this information to the House.

However, to get there, we need to create a competitive market to attract private investment and start up bioenergy projects. An investment tax credit could help provide funding for businesses. At present, foreign markets, especially in Europe and the United States, are more attractive because they have implemented regulations supporting the use of low-carbon second-generation fuels, or green chemical products. It is more profitable for Enerkem to sell its products in California or Europe because there are also relevant regulations that encourage choosing green chemicals, also known as circular chemistry. That is not the case in Canada. We need a regulatory framework and I invite members to think about that.

Canada should put in place the market conditions necessary to carry out projects that support using biofuel made from low-carbon hydroelectricity. The regulatory framework needs to have indirect obligations. It must ensure that all waste from landfills is recognized through credits. Also, a percentage must be established for circular or organic components, and electricity must be recognized as being carbon-neutral in order to support increased production in Canada. The regulatory framework must recognize innovation and grant credits to industries like Enerkem for diverting waste toward recycling plants, for example, to take into account what would happen if they were not recycled.

Currently, according to life cycle analyses, putting plastic into the ocean is considered acceptable from an environmental viewpoint. It is rather absurd that, in life cycle analyses, there are no credits granted for measures aiming to act differently.

The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C‑204, which seeks to prohibit the export of plastic waste for final disposal. We believe plastics exported to be recycled should be properly sorted and labelled and definitely traceable. They should not be used for fuel in foreign countries, nor should they ever end up in the environment.

The Bloc Québécois believes it is fair to prohibit both the export of waste and the production of certain single-use items, but that is not enough. We need to rethink how materials circulate in the economy. Enerkem offers one such solution. Furthermore, Quebec is already ahead of the Canadian provinces, since it has its own model for managing how materials circulate in the economy.

If the federal government wants to do something, it should transfer the money unconditionally to the provinces, which, like Quebec, are already implementing a circular economy strategy and extended producer responsibility. Quebec has proven many times over that it has the skills and methods, in particular through our powerhouse, Hydro-Québec, to recycle waste with a very small carbon footprint.

Bill C‑204 is good because the anti-dumping measures complement the proactive steps taken to reduce plastic production and improve waste management. However, the upcoming federal policy banning single-use plastics does not free Canada from the need to take immediate action and stop exporting its plastic waste to developing countries.

Conditions must be put in place in the short and medium terms to ensure that recycling companies in Quebec have ways to recycle their more complex plastic products and to improve the quality of life of recyclable materials.

Furthermore, the member for York—Simcoe says that he wants to keep non-recyclable household plastic waste from becoming hazardous waste in foreign countries. Enerkem is one solution to that problem.

Final disposal implies that the material is not destined for recycling. Canada recycles only 9% of plastic waste. The rest ends up in landfills or in the environment. Canada's plastics economy is primarily linear. Approximately 9% of plastic waste is recycled, 4% is incinerated for energy recovery, 86% ends up in landfill and 1% ends up in the environment. A regulatory framework is needed to redirect waste, especially plastic, to innovative companies like Enerkem.

Obviously, we have to stop exporting our plastic to the rest of the world. The Basel Convention reminds us that the richest countries have to stop dumping their waste in developing countries. Exporting plastic waste involves a moral responsibility towards nature and towards other peoples and states in the world today who refuse to be our garbage can. Just think of Malaysia. We have to listen to them.

As a final point, I want to remind the House of Quebec's strong action on the circular economy, taking a less linear approach. The waste we produce can also serve as the raw materials for further regulations. Since we have a duty to act here in Parliament, I think we need to make sure we have good regulations so that it costs more to send our waste to landfill. At the same time, we need to create programs that allow us to move forward and promote the circular economy by finding ways to reuse waste materials. In my region, for instance, forestry waste can be used as a fuel source to heat mines.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Scot Davidson Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I would like to again give my deep appreciation to everyone who has contributed to see Bill C-204 get to where it is today, and this is very exciting.

I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, the Conservative shadow minister for the environment, for his support and assistance.

I am also grateful for the insight and wisdom of my colleagues, including the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, who is always willing to roll up his sleeves to make things happen.

Legends are not born; it takes hard work and dedication. I would like to thank the hon. member for Thornhill, who is going to be sorely missed for his incredible knowledge and commitment to Canadians and to the residents of Thornhill.

We benefited from the contributions of the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, where, of course, the environment is the economy.

I know each of these members share my passion for the environment, and that was reflected in their remarks.

I would also like to thank the member for Perth—Wellington, who graciously allowed for this bill to come up for debate again at the earliest opportunity. He is a class act.

I am thankful for the constructive conversations and collaborations I have had with my Conservative colleagues, members of the NDP, the Bloc and the Greens, many of whom seconded this bill. It is a minority Parliament and we will get this done.

Of course, I would also like to acknowledge the many environmental groups, industry organizations and others who have offered their expertise on Bill C-204 and the issues it seeks to address.

Finally, I am very grateful for the continual hard work of my staff, including Patrick Speck, who has worked diligently throughout this whole process. I cannot thank him enough; he is a beauty.

It is an honour to sponsor Bill C-204 and put in the work to get it here. We know more still needs to be done to protect the environment, and I am sure my colleagues in the chamber will want to know I am not done yet.

The Lake Simcoe clean-up fund is still cancelled; raw sewage is still being dumped in our waterways; first nations are still having to fight to get access to clean drinking water; and until Bill C-204 comes into force, Canada is still exporting its plastic waste to foreign countries.

I may not be in my hip waders now, but I can assure members, especially those on the government side, I will keep pushing every day and keep grinding it out to ensure the environment is protected. They can count on that. That is why we are today.

As I have said before, Bill C-204 would strike the right balance. It is clear that we cannot continue to send our plastic waste overseas, where it is devastating our environment. Canada needs to show leadership on this important issue before it is too late.

Many other countries have already taken action on plastic waste exports, but Canada has fallen behind. Sadly, the Liberal government insists that the shameful practice is beneficial despite the harmful impacts it is having on the environment.

Members know that this week is Canadian Environmental Week. Much has been said about the need to protect the environment, but Canadians want to see more than just words. We need action. They want Canada to stop treating the rest of the world like our dumping ground. We must protect our natural environment for future generations without sacrificing the jobs Canadians need today or impacting our ability to properly recycle plastic waste.

It is why Bill C-204 would implement a reasonable prohibition on plastic waste exports intended for final disposal to foreign countries. With the passage of Bill C-204, we can take responsibility for our own plastic waste and ensure it is handled properly, not dumped in the ocean, landfilled or burned in a developing country that just cannot handle it in the right way. This bill would also ensure legitimate environmentally sound plastic recycling could continue and Canadian industry would be supported in their innovative efforts.

It is time to ban the export of non-recyclable plastic waste from Canada to foreign countries. This is one environmental target we can all hit together. Let us put our words into action this Canadian Environmental Week. I urge all members to support Bill C-204.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

May 14th, 2021 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Scot Davidson Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, York—Simcoe is a great riding, the soup and salad bowl of Canada.

It is a privilege to rise in this House and speak once more to Bill C-204, an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, final disposal of plastic waste. I am very grateful to my colleagues who have supported this proposed legislation and who worked to study and improve it over the last few months. I am also greatly appreciative of the contributions of the many experts, advocacy groups, industry organizations and other interested Canadians who offered their insight and expertise on Bill C-204 and the issues it will address.

It has been 462 days since I first introduced Bill C-204 in this chamber. We have lost a lot of time already. The impacts of plastic waste remains a significant and pressing concern here in Canada and around the world. Over time, discarded plastic breaks down, and if not dealt with properly, it ends up contaminating our lakes, oceans and rivers. It also threatens our ecosystem with drastic implications for wildlife and our natural environment.

Canada has both a national and global responsibility to step up and show leadership to address the impact of plastic waste. Sadly, under the government, we are doing the exact opposite. One of the greatest contributors to global plastic pollution has been the export of plastic waste from countries such as Canada to other countries around the world. Between 2015 and 2018, almost 400,000 tonnes of plastic waste were exported from Canada to foreign countries. We continue to ship almost 90,000 tonnes overseas every year. This is a serious problem.

Since China banned the import of all types of plastic waste in January of 2018, much of our plastic waste has been sent to Southeast Asia to countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Many of these countries lack the regulatory controls or waste management capabilities to properly dispose of plastic waste imported from Canada and elsewhere. Consequently, it has all too often been disposed of improperly. It is ending up in landfills, dumped in the ocean or burned.

This is having a harmful impact on the environment and on the population of these countries. In Indonesia, for example, the burning of plastic waste has increased the air pollution and caused contamination in the local food chain because of high toxin levels. These toxin levels are linked to serious, long-term health problems, such as cancer, respiratory illness, diabetes and compromised immune systems.

It is no wonder that many of the countries that have been inundated with plastic waste from abroad are now looking to put a stop to these imports. Last year, Malaysia returned more than 150 shipping containers of non-recyclable plastic waste to Canada and other developed countries. The Malaysian environment minister justified this decision by declaring, “we do not want to be the garbage bin of the world”. We all remember this incident.

Globally, many of Canada's counterparts around the world have already recognized how unsustainable and harmful the impacts of exporting plastic waste are. This includes countries that share our strong commitment to open global trade. Both Australia and New Zealand have brought in strict domestic controls on plastics, which include prohibiting plastic waste from their respective countries.

The United Kingdom is pursuing similar legislation, as have every member state of the European Union and 70 other countries. Additionally, 98 countries have ratified an amendment to the Basel Convention, which governs the transboundary movement of waste. This amendment bans the export of plastic waste from OECD countries to non-OECD countries.

Unfortunately, there has been no effort by Canada's Liberal government to address the continuing export of non-recyclable plastic waste and the devastating effects it is having on the environment. The Liberals have refused to establish a prohibition on plastic waste within our domestic laws. They have refused to ratify the comprehensive Basel Convention amendment that would address these issues.

In fact, they actively worked to negotiate a gaping loophole to get around existing international obligations governing the plastic waste trade. This cannot be allowed to continue. Now is the time for Canada to prohibit the export of non-recyclable plastic waste to foreign countries. This is why we are all here today.

Bill C-204 amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to prohibit the export of plastic waste for final disposal. The bill establishes this prohibition in a reasonable and effective manner that protects the environment while supporting the many innovative recycling and plastic reuse businesses that operate right here in Canada.

Bill C-204 targets plastic waste exports destined for final disposal. This is a specifically defined term that is clearly established within our domestic regulations and recognized within our international agreements. By doing so, this bill ensures that plastic waste will be recycled, reused, recovered or reclaimed in an environmentally sound manner. Plastic waste will continue to be exported, but plastic waste being exported just to be dumped in a landfill, released into the ocean or burned will no longer be permitted.

Bill C-204 strikes an important and delicate balance. It will put in place an export ban on non-recyclable plastic waste that will protect the environment. It will make sure that when Canadians throw something in their blue bin, it will not end up floating in the ocean halfway around the world. Critically, this would be accomplished in a responsible way that would provide certainty and clarity to Canadian industry. We need to support the many Canadian businesses involved in plastic recycling, which are doing so much to innovate and responsibly manage our plastic waste.

Bill C-204 further strengthens our ability to control what happens to our plastic waste when it is exported. Currently, once plastic waste leaves our borders, we lose much of our ability to ensure it is being handled properly. Most of our plastic waste is being sent to the United States across our shared border, the amount of which has been increasing significantly every year. More than 60,000 tonnes was shipped from Canada to the U.S. annually between 2017 and 2019. Last year that amount increased to over 83,000 tonnes.

Just last fall, the Liberal government negotiated a special agreement between Canada and the United States concerning plastic waste that has been criticized for being both opaque and uncontrolled. This arrangement allows for Canadian plastic waste exports to be shipped onward from the U.S. for final disposal in developing countries.

I ask members to bear in mind that the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention, and plastic waste exported from their country is not subject to the same controls. As such, many environmental groups are very concerned. They believe that Canada's plastic waste exports to the U.S. exploit a significant loophole in our global obligations on plastic waste that directly contravenes international law.

To address these concerns, Bill C-204 prohibits the export of non-recyclable plastic waste to all foreign countries. This ensures that the same environmental standards are applied to exported plastic waste, no matter where in the world it ends up, so that it is disposed of properly and our environment is protected.

Another key element of Bill C-204 is ensuring that the various types of plastic waste exported from Canada are addressed. That is why the list of plastic waste outlined in schedule 7 of Bill C-204 is derived directly from the internationally recognized annex IV(B) of the Basel Convention on plastic waste. Any of the items on the list can be added or removed by the minister through the Governor in Council as necessary.

I note that at committee, the member for Victoria successfully moved an amendment for schedule 7 to include PVC. This constructive addition to the list strengthens Bill C-204 further. I would like to thank the hon. member for her contribution.

Of course, any federal legislation concerning plastic waste will have implications on the provinces and the municipalities. At the local level, Canadians participate in recycling and curbside waste programs with the expectation that their plastic waste will be dealt with properly and in an environmentally sound manner.

Bill C-204 will do this. With the inclusion of subsection 1.4, we can be assured that it would respect all these constitutional jurisdictions. I would like to extend my appreciation to the hon. member for Repentigny for this important addition.

Bill C-204 would apply fines and penalties against anyone who contravenes it, as they are already established in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Unfortunately, there are some bad actors who will try and get around these sorts of prohibitions. These fines will ensure that the law will be enforced and followed.

I have always believed that no one has a monopoly on good ideas, that the best solutions and the right way forward can come from anywhere, and it is becoming more important than ever to work together to make a difference. That is why it was so unfortunate that the Liberal government has opposed, delayed and blocked Bill C-204 at every turn. It opposes this bill, simply because it was sponsored by a Conservative member of Parliament, and continues to ignore the serious issues that it seeks to address.

Last month, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change said, “We need to explore and capitalize on all our options for reducing plastic waste and pollution”, but by opposing Bill C-204, the Liberals are rejecting a meaningful and effective measure to put an end to the plastic pollution of non-recycled plastic waste exports.

The Liberals' inaction on this issue is very unfortunate, but not unexpected. They have called the practice of sending non-recyclable plastic waste to developing countries beneficial. They refuse to see the deficiencies with our current legislation on plastic waste. Worst of all, they refuse to acknowledge the serious impacts plastic waste exports are having on the environment.

It is not just inaction. Unfortunately, during the environment committee study of Bill C-204, Liberal members on the committee repeatedly and actively sought to undermine the legislative process and the will of the House with their conduct. This was very disappointing. Protecting the environment by addressing the export of plastic waste should not be a partisan issue. That is why I am pleased to have the support of the members of the NDP, the Bloc, the Green Party, and all of my Conservative colleagues. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the Liberals.

I think Canadians would be very disappointed to see the Liberal government failing to act on the environment yet again. We have seen this many times before. After all, this is the same Liberal government that cancelled the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund, which made such a difference in protecting Lake Simcoe and its ecosystem. It is unfortunate that, after the Conservatives pledged to bring back the cleanup fund, the Deputy Prime Minister showed up in Barrie and said the Liberals would do the same, but as we continue to see, the government is all talk and no action on the environment. The cleanup fund still remains cancelled today.

Canadians want to see real meaningful action to address the issue of plastic waste exports and the impact it is having on the environment. When it comes to the environment, there is no “out of sight, out of mind”. The impacts of plastic pollution affect us all. It is time for Canada to stop exporting non-recyclable plastic waste for other countries to deal with. This can finally be accomplished with Bill C-204, so together, let us make this happen.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

May 14th, 2021 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Terry Duguid LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency)

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by recognizing the work of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in its study of this bill. The work of the committee along with input from witnesses and others who participated in the study have given us a better understanding of the bill, its merits and, most important, its shortcomings.

This government continues to support work to address issues around plastic waste, including the impact of exports of plastic waste from Canada. However, the government maintains that Bill C-204 is not the appropriate vehicle to do so. As my colleague mentioned during a previous debate, significant progress has been made to address problematic exports of plastic waste from Canada since Bill C-204 was first introduced over a year ago.

To this day, 187 countries, including Canada, have ratified and are implementing controls agreed on at the international level on transboundary movement of hazardous and non-hazardous plastic waste destined for both recycling and final disposal.

Under the rules adopted by the parties to the Basel Convention in 2019, known as the plastic waste amendments, the transboundary movement of plastic waste among the parties to the convention can only take place if certain conditions are met and in accordance with certain procedures. All plastic waste, hazardous and non-hazardous, controlled under the Basel Convention requires prior informed consent of the importing country and any transit countries before the export can occur. This is true for waste destined for recycling or for final disposal.

Through the prior informed consent procedure, and this is important, countries enter into a joint process where the country of import must provide written consent to the import before the country of export can allow the export to occur. In providing its consent, the country of import confirms that the waste will be managed in an environmentally sound manner. In other words, the plastic waste amendments under the Basel Convention are designed to support recycling activities, while reducing exports of harder-to-recycle plastics to countries that may not be in a position to manage them in an environmentally sound manner. They also ensure that the importing party participates in the decision-making process by subjecting imports to its consent.

Given the inaccurate information provided to the committee during its study of the bill, I want to be clear. The Government of Canada has ratified the Basel Convention Plastic waste amendments and as of January 1, 2021, they have been fully implemented through Canada's domestic regulatory regime.

What does this mean? This means that under Canada's export and import of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material regulations, all plastic waste controlled under the Basel Convention, both hazardous and non-hazardous, is considered hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material under these domestic regulations and is subject to export controls. Given this, Canada is in full compliance with its obligations under the convention.

Bill C-204 differs from the internationally agreed approach, which has been adopted by all parties to the Basel Convention, by proposing a blanket stop to trade in plastic waste as defined by the bill and destined for final disposal. The bill actually has a more limited control on exports of plastic waste.

More specifically, the bill would prohibit the export of plastic waste that is listed in the schedule to the bill and destined for final disposal only, while our existing domestic regulatory regime not only controls what is likely a broader scope of plastic waste, but also for broader purposes: plastic waste destined for final disposal and recycling.

Should the bill be enacted, it would establish two coexisting regimes in Canada for the export of plastic waste. For plastic waste listed in the schedule to the bill and exported for final disposal, export would be prohibited. For all other plastic waste covered by the Basel Convention and not covered by the bill, exports for final disposal and recycling requires the prior informed consent procedure under the regulations. This would create confusion and uncertainty, making it very challenging for stakeholders to determine and understand their regulatory obligations.

I want to discuss some of the measures currently in place with respect to trade and plastic waste between Canada and the U.S., as concerns were raised at committee.

The U.S. is not a party to the Basel Convention. I want to clarify that the Basel Convention explicitly prohibits countries that have ratified it from trading in Basel-controlled waste with non-parties unless an agreement or arrangement is in place between a party and non-party, which requires that provisions are not less environmentally sound than those provided for by this convention.

As a result, Canada and the U.S. entered into an arrangement that affirms that plastic waste circulating between Canada and the U.S. is managed in an environmentally sound manner in both countries. As per the arrangement, both countries have in place and intend to maintain the measures that ensure the environmentally sound management of waste.

Therefore, while Basel-controlled plastic waste can be exported from Canada to the U.S., that waste can only be exported from the U.S. to another Basel party if the two have entered into arrangement or agreement that is compatible with the environmentally sound management of waste as required by this convention. There is more.

Basel-controlled waste exported from Canada, which transits through the U.S. but is destined to a party to the Basel Convention requires an export permit prior to export. Such a permit is only granted if the destination party explicitly grants consent to receive the waste.

It is also important that all parliamentarians understand that enacting the bill could potentially impact waste management in Canada. The implications raised at second reading and during the ENVI study of this bill merit consideration as we prepare to vote on whether this bill should pass and then be sent to the Senate.

A concrete impact of this bill is that exports of Canadian municipal solid waste for final disposal would be banned, given that it generally contains plastics covered by the bill. The export prohibition proposed by the bill is expected to impact waste management in Canada by increasing pressure on domestic waste management systems. The Ontario Waste Management Association, in its written correspondence to ENVI, raised concerns that the bill's prohibition would put severe pressure on already limited landfill capacity in Ontario. The correspondence also indicated that Ontario's landfill capacity was projected to be exhausted by 2034.

Before we enact a prohibition of this nature at the federal level, we will need to consult with our territorial, provincial and municipal partners to ensure we fully understand and assess the impact that a prohibition of this kind would have on domestic waste management. For this reason and all the others I have explained, we remain opposed to the enactment of this bill.

I encourage fellow parliamentarians to carefully consider the current regime on transboundary movement of plastic waste along with the domestic implications of the bill if it were to become law.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

May 14th, 2021 / 2:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, based on what I am hearing from members, it seems as though no one is interpreting Bill C-204 the same way.

The bill introduced by my colleague from York—Simcoe has made its way to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I thank the member for the speech he just gave, because he gave a good description of how plastic can harm the environment and human health if it is not strictly controlled.

The content of the bill seems to be a hot-button issue, especially among companies in the recycling industry and the plastics trade. This is where the Basel Convention, which is not mentioned in Bill C-204, comes in, and more specifically the amendments to annexes II, VII and IX of this convention. These amendments came into force on January 1, 2021, and were accepted by the Government of Canada on December 20, 2020. The House indicated its intention to comply with these amendments on October 28, 2020, in an explanatory memorandum.

The preamble of the Basel Convention states that the production of wastes should be minimized and, where possible, “be disposed of in the State where they were generated”. The main body of the convention states that the exporting country must receive prior informed consent from the recipient country before hazardous wastes are sent.

The amendments set out a list of plastics that it is prohibited to export, unless the importing country has made an informed decision and can dispose of those plastics in an environmentally friendly way. Companies involved in the trade of plastic waste with the United States who communicated with members of the committee say that Bill C-204 will have a major negative economic impact on their activities. They are concerned about the constraints imposed by Bill C-204.

Clearly, there are irritants for companies in the sector, which are now facing additional constraints. They must consult the annex of the Basel Convention to determine which substances are now identified as hazardous under the convention and they must also comply with national law in that regard. What is more, if the trade in plastics continues, clear labelling will be required so that the countries that are importing these materials are not receiving non-compliant packages, for example.

The note that I mentioned earlier that was submitted to the House on October 28 explained the following: Canada and the United States came to an arrangement to confirm that plastic waste that is subject to annex II of the convention is managed in an ecologically sound manner. Canada therefore complies with its obligations under the convention and is now in a position to accept the amendments.

In the wake of the trade concerns that were raised, I really would have liked to have some clarification on the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, given that the United States is not a signatory of the Basel Convention. Unfortunately, the officials chosen by the government to answer MPs' questions on Bill C-204 were very clear when they said they could not talk about the specifics of the bill.

It is important to understand that collection and recycling centres operate best when they are located near major consumer centres. Our neighbours to the south have more sites because their population justifies it. I am not suggesting that the United States is a champion of the circular economy, I would never say that, but the fact remains that Americans are buying our plastic waste because they know how to reclaim it. The officials explained the waste package tracing system saying that possible dumping to a third party would be unlikely.

The truth is that we do not have the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs in this area. We must absolutely take action on this issue to limit as much as possible the export of any and all plastics until we are able to reduce our waste, which would be ideal.

There is still a lot of work to be done. Why not adopt an approach where this resource would be developed here? Let us keep this economy and its jobs. It is good for the environment in Quebec and in Canada.

All the discussions in committee, along with the readings and debates on this critical issue directly related to our capacity to deal with our waste here, lead me to reiterate the following facts.

The Bloc Québécois believes that, before we even consider exporting plastic waste, Canada has a duty to rethink how materials circulate in the economy. We fully subscribe to the Basel Convention's preamble.

As it happens, the committee study on single-use plastics ties in with Bill C-204. Though separate, the study addresses another aspect of the plastics issue: what we produce and consume, what we can eliminate, what virgin resin producers want to maintain, what we need to do to establish a true circular economy sooner, and more.

I will not go into detail about the data, the stats, per capita plastic production and consumption, the difference between “toxic” and “dangerous”, or the environmental consequences of the massive plastic burden we are saddled with.

The government may not have been ready for the reaction of industries affected by Bill C-204, which, to be clear, requires Canadian legislation to align with the Basel Convention, but it had plenty of time to get ready. The government has known since at least 2019 that the Basel Convention amendments had to be adopted. It ratified them at the eleventh hour without bothering to help industry prepare. Anyway, that is how it looks to me, and it has to be said.

For its part, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has been discussing plastics for several years. How is it that an international agreement like the Basel Convention and its important amendments has never been examined? We need concrete action and state-of-the-art recycling and reclamation facilities. Quebec has a pool of expertise, especially with respect to the circular economy, that is more than willing to participate in this work.

As elected members of a legislative assembly, I believe it is our duty to legislate. Laws determine conduct and guide society towards transformation, especially in the case of markets. However, we also have a duty to guide the economic and social environments that must adapt.

Yes, we must implement measures. They need not be draconian, but they must be planned. Our decisions must result in predictability. When industries and economic sectors are kept abreast of the acts and regulations put in place by the legislator in their regard, the market adapts and workers can be trained. In order for this adaptation to occur properly, there must be reasonable deadlines. I am not talking about unlimited deadlines dictated by the stakeholders, but deadlines that are established by listening to their concerns.

I am pleased that my colleagues from the committee were receptive to my amendments to change the timeline for implementing Bill C-204 in order to provide this predictability and respect the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. Speaking objectively, it would have been preferable if this had been done from the outset.

In what should be called the great plastics file, the governments of Quebec and the provinces should be at the heart of the discussion. In fact, the key element of Bill C-204 is the management of waste materials, which is a responsibility exclusive to Quebec and the provinces.

I will close by simply reminding members that the federal government holds 50% of tax revenues, but only a meagre 6.8% of the responsibility for municipal infrastructure. Municipalities must get what they need to participate in the economy of tomorrow. Quebec and the provinces are relying on the federal government to give them their fair share, especially since the government is focusing heavily on eliminating plastic waste.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

May 14th, 2021 / 2:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House today to take part in this very important debate, one that affects us all. The NDP has been raising concerns about plastic waste for several years now.

We are talking about the export of plastic waste, and there is a lot to say on the subject. I am also going to talk about reducing the use of plastics in general and especially single-use plastics, such as water bottles, which unfortunately are still used too often. I will also address the topic of reducing waste in general, plastic or otherwise, since this is the source of many problems.

I would be remiss if I did not highlight local initiatives in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. People really want to see action taken by businesses that have a vision for reducing plastic waste and waste in general.

I would like to applaud the initiatives of some of our local shops: Épisode, Vrac & Bocaux, La Cale zero-waste pub, Méga Vrac Rosemont, Rose Ross, La Brume dans mes Lunettes, Le Frigo de Bacchus, La réserve naturelle, La fabrik éco, Dispatch café, Manitoba, Véganation and Le Cornélien, not to mention Vrac sur Roues. That last one is not located in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, but it delivers bulk products by bike and therefore does not produce any greenhouse gases. Delivery is available in my riding and in other neighbourhoods.

My first point is about exports of plastic waste, which is what Bill C-204 is about. If I have time, I will also talk about the use of plastic in general and waste reduction.

The situation right now is alarming. As my colleague said, there are plastic islands in our seas and oceans. In fact, a plastic continent is floating around the Atlantic Ocean, not to mention the plastic pollution littering the shores of our rivers and lakes and the St. Lawrence River. For years, people have been participating in clean-up campaigns and picking up as much litter as possible to stop fish and turtles from dying due to the plastic bags that are washing up on shore and to have a cleaner environment that is not so damaged by the presence of humans and industry.

Canada is truly a lame duck when it comes to plastics exports. Our country is not assuming its responsibilities and is literally shovelling its waste into the neighbour's yard when we are no longer willing or able to manage it here.

I would like to point out that this problem has probably been exacerbated by the pandemic. More plastic is being used today, often for medical reasons that are quite understandable. As for greenhouse gas emissions, the economic downturn has probably helped bring them down a bit or at least kept them stagnant rather than increasing them. With respect to plastic pollution, the pandemic has probably made it worse, because of all the masks we still have to wear. It is obviously understandable why we need to wear them, but that does not make it any less of a problem. Instead, the problem has only worsened, and it is even more important to find solutions quickly.

In 2018, Canada shipped 44,000 tonnes of plastic waste to other countries. Many will recall the quarrel between Canada and the Philippines. We had to spend over $1 million to bring back 69 illegally shipped containers. For six years we tried to convince the Philippines to dispose of the waste we had shovelled into to their yard. We wanted them to deal with our waste and our problems.

This is not the only time that this has happened. This year the Malaysian government sent 11 shipping containers of plastic waste back to Canada. We are incapable of taking responsibility and complying with the international agreements that the member for Repentigny spoke about a little earlier.

Canada is incapable of dealing with its own plastic waste or reducing its plastic consumption. We send it to third world countries and ask them to dispose of our waste, which sometimes includes medical waste.

We do this because our capacity for recycling the plastic waste we produce is far too limited. Generally, this waste used to be shipped to China, but it has decided, quite rightly, to refuse because we are unable to handle it ourselves. However, not only is it the right thing to do, it is the responsible thing to do. It can also be a niche market that could create jobs. Having the capacity to recycle waste is good for the environment and could be good for the economy.

A few years ago, I toured a business in the heart of Quebec that was shredding laundry soap containers made of type 2 plastic, a fairly hard plastic. They made small pellets that were then used to manufacture irrigation pipes for our farmers. Instead of burning this plastic or throwing it into fields or rivers, the company reused this plastic and turned it into a product that agricultural producers need. What was even more extraordinary with this company was that it fostered labour market integration as most of the people hired had a hearing impairment. This created jobs for people who generally face barriers to employment.

I think we need to be aware of the need to reduce our use of plastics, especially single-use plastics. Plastic needs to be recycled, and that takes infrastructure. The fact that we do not have that infrastructure in this day and age is outrageous. The various levels of government, including the federal government, should invest to help us recycle plastic. However, we must reduce our use of plastics.

For example, it is not that hard to pick up prepared foods from the store using a recyclable container brought from home instead of the store's styrofoam container. It is not that hard to carry around a small reusable water bottle for when we get thirsty. More and more people are doing it, but, unfortunately, even more people are buying their drinking water in plastic bottles, when there is tap water at home, free, filtered municipal water that is perfectly good to drink.

If we are to reduce the use of plastic, we also need to talk about over-packaging. This is important. I am very pleased to represent the riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, which hosted the first ever plastic attack in all of North America. It has happened a few more times since.

Two or three years ago, three young women asked people leaving a grocery store to remove all of the plastic packaging from their fruits and vegetables. Their goal was to teach these people that they did not need to purchase over-packaged products and that they could use reusable or mesh bags to do their groceries. They were also sending a message to the grocery store owners that people would rather purchase products that are not over-packaged.

One of the examples I talk about a lot and that drives me crazy is when bananas are sold on a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic and wrapped in another layer of plastic. Bananas come with a peel. They are already protected and need no extra packaging.

There are so many changes to be made to our production and consumption patterns. This plastic attack was done in collaboration with the grocery store, and people quite liked being asked to think about these issues.

We also need to reduce how much waste we produce in general. We are told that Quebeckers and Canadians are among the largest waste producers in the world, with an average of two kilograms per person per day. To change these habits, we will need to make a tremendous effort collectively, but also locally and individually.

These new habits will cause different businesses to change how they offer their products. I have to come back to the great initiatives of all the businesses, grocery stores, pubs and restaurants aiming for zero waste. We should be encouraging them, because these are all excellent initiatives. They can be found across Quebec. We must identify which businesses are doing it and encourage them.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

May 14th, 2021 / 2:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to speak to this timely bill brought by my colleague, the member for York—Simcoe. Before I get to the details of Bill C-204 and the impact that this proposed legislation has already had on a government that was dragging its feet in joining the global movement to ban the export of hazardous plastic waste, I would like to thank the member for his wider, passionate and loud commitment to the magnificent body of water that lends its name to his constituency. It is about an hour's drive north of my riding of Thornhill. I am speaking of Lake Simcoe, of course.

Since his arrival in the House of Commons after his election two years ago, the member has regularly raised his voice urging the government to re-establish the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund, killed by the Liberals in 2017. The virtual challenges imposed on the workings of the House over the past year have forced us to limit attendance on the Hill and to work from constituency offices and homes. While all of this has frustrated many members, the MP for York—Simcoe has taken advantage of his remote technology a number of times to bring the lake, and the government's dereliction of duty to a cleaner Lake Simcoe, to the attention of the House and Canadians. He positioned himself in front of the lake one time, and as he has referred to today, he made a statement while actually standing in Lake Simcoe in hip waders to call for re-establishment of the highly effective cleanup fund our Conservative government funded for 10 years.

His proposed legislation, Bill C-204, is on one hand simple in the changes that it proposes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, but also profound in what it could achieve. As the member for York—Simcoe reminded us when he spoke, for far too long Canada has been sending too much of the plastic waste that we all generate to other countries for disposal.

There was a time when there was a significant market for clean and sorted plastic waste, both in Canada and abroad, particularly in China. A corporate constituent in my riding of Thornhill was producing a broad range of products 10 years ago that included furniture, planks for decks and docking, buckets, barrels, sports gear and so forth made from a variety of plastic waste material. It was bumped from the market when China began outbidding it and other Canadian recyclers for Canada's plastic waste.

In 2017, after dominating international trade in waste plastic, China abandoned the practice and the market because its customers around the world raised their quality standards on imported recyclables. These included Canada, to its credit.

That recycling market was for clean, select and sorted plastic waste. More of Canada's plastic waste, much of it contaminated, has been exported to the United States and a number of Asian countries for disposal by incineration, landfilling or abandonment. As the member for York—Simcoe points out, between 2015 and 2018 almost 400,000 tonnes of Canadian plastic waste was shipped to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, China and the United States.

In many of these countries where environmental standards actually exist, they are often very poorly enforced. These tonnes of waste are not only irresponsibly burned or improperly added to landfills. In many cases they are simply dumped and defile the environment, groundwater, surface water and air. Unlike China, which banned waste plastic because of market rejection, some of those countries are now prohibiting plastic waste trade for environmental reasons, in some cases because of the sudden surge in plastic waste dumped on their countries resulting from the huge tonnage rejected by China.

Canada's environmental image abroad was bruised terribly last year when the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia demanded that Canada, at great cost to Canadian taxpayers, repatriate thousands of tonnes of contaminated plastic waste that had been dumped on their rural communities and countryside. All of this happened at the same time as countries around the world came together to more responsibly regulate the way countries controlled the import and export of plastic waste in its many forms.

Party countries to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, a convention that was created in 1989 in the wake of scandals involving the dumping of toxic waste in Africa and other developing countries, agreed, in 2019, to update the Basel Convention to ban the transboundary movement of plastic waste from industrialized countries to developing countries, specifically the types of plastic waste that are considered hazardous and contaminated.

Members will remember that I mentioned earlier that Canada has been dragging its feet in joining the global movement to ban the export of plastic waste. The government failed to demonstrate leadership by not immediately joining other countries in the ratification of the Basel Convention amendments, and that is where Bill C-204 made a big difference even before this debate. The Liberals, who had been derelict in their duty again to ratify the Basel amendments, suddenly, two days before the member for York—Simcoe was to speak to this bill, announced that they would ratify it, and they did, although they were more than a year late, 18 months late, and after 186 other countries had signed.

Now, does that mean that the export of all plastic waste from Canada will suddenly stop? Unfortunately not. The Basel Convention amendments apply to a specific list of types of plastic considered hazardous, but not to another list of plastic waste that is presumed not to be hazardous, provided these safe, uncontaminated waste plastics are destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner. The Liberals think that makes it okay for some Canadian waste plastic to be exported. They claim that it helps businesses abroad, as if Canada's plastic trash is some kind of development assistance.

This makes Canada an outlier in the OECD, because there is another amendment to the Basel Convention, known as the ban amendment, which bans absolutely the export of plastic waste from OECD countries to non-OECD countries. There are 98 countries that have signed that amendment, democracies such as Australia and the United Kingdom, but to date, Canada refuses to sign.

Canadians watching from home or reading a transcript of my speech today in Hansard should know that much of the media reporting on these issues confuses the two amendments, which the Liberals use to their advantage when they claim that Bill C-204 is unnecessary because Canada signed, belatedly, the first amendment.

The sponsor of Bill C-204, the member for York—Simcoe, believes that Canada should not be exporting any plastic waste. The member believes that because there are any number of Canadian companies prepared and capable of recycling plastic waste, it is time for Canada to stop treating the rest of the world as a dumping ground for Canadian plastic waste.

He referenced in his speech an Alberta company that can convert all types of plastic to diesel fuel. It is ready to build refineries across the country that could convert 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste a day, diverting more than a million tonnes from landfill and foreign destinations. He mentioned another company in Nova Scotia that, like my corporate constituent in Thornhill, could manufacture a broad range of products from plastic waste. However, these companies need access to adequate volumes of clean plastic waste to make their business plans work, and if Canada kept its vast tonnage here, they would work.

The member for York—Simcoe told the House that Canadians from coast to coast want action on this environmental issue. He said that the Liberal government could no longer justify a practice that many other industrialized countries have ended, and that developing countries should no longer be expected to fulfill disposal services that we should take care of in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

I agree with my colleague from York—Simcoe, and I hope all members will join me in supporting his bill, Bill C-204.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 13th, 2021 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, entitled “The Road Ahead: Encouraging the Production and Purchase of Zero-Emission Vehicles in Canada”.

This study, which is extremely relevant in today's context where we are making the transition to a greener economy, was proposed by the member for Repentigny.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

I would also like to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in relation to Bill C-204, an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

January 28th, 2021 / 5:30 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I add to some of my earlier comments. I will do a very quick review.

Bill C-204 was introduced by the member for York—Simcoe. Given the summary of the bill, one could be somewhat skeptical of it, especially since it is coming from a member of the Conservative caucus. I do not know if the Conservatives had a discussion about this issue, especially the members who were sitting in government in 2010 to 2014, because the bill attempts to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to prohibit the export of certain types of plastic to foreign countries for final disposal.

The reason I started off this way is that a few years ago there was a huge issue in the Philippines. When Stephen Harper was the prime minister, there was a company that shipped all sorts of plastics, which it claimed to be garbage, to the Philippines. When the containers were opened, the waste did not have much to do with the recycling of plastics; there was just a lot of garbage. That is what it was. There were used diapers, and it was an actual mess when they unsealed the containers, with odours coming out. It became a diplomatic issue for us.

We can learn something from this: We need to recognize that it is not appropriate for Canada to be shipping garbage around the world to different places without proper checks in place. In certain situations, it should not happen at all, period.

In 2016, I believe, reflecting on the garbage or recycled plastics that were shipped under the Harper regime, we strengthened some of the guidelines to prevent those sorts of things from happening in the future. Diplomatically, it was raised at a fairly high level, and President Duterte indicated that he had serious concerns about the waste and wanted it out of the Philippines. Fortunately, we were able to find a place for the garbage and got rid of it here in Canada at a facility, where it was burned.

The point is that we recognize the need to look at environmental issues. When we look at specifics, the government already has a fairly comprehensive agenda to tackle the issue of plastic waste. This includes strengthening controls on plastic waste exports under the Basel Convention, for the control of transboundary movements of hazardous waste and recyclable materials. This is the type of agreement that governments around the world need to look at, support and then follow, because it is a great way to ensure that controls are not just between one, two or three countries, but widely accepted around the world.

Canada does play and has played a leadership role in recent negotiations for amendments. These amendments would reduce exports of non-recyclable, hazardous plastic waste to countries unable to manage them in an environmentally sound way. What I really like is the fact that as we continue to go forward and talk about this, especially but not exclusively with young people, we find that the environment is a huge issue. People have many different ideas.

As a government, we have been moving forward on this file in significant ways. I could talk about the emissions legislation to get to net zero by 2050. I could talk about the two billion trees we are committing to plant. Also, back in October, we indicated we would be banning plastics, in particular six items: plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and hard-to-recycle takeout containers.

I think the government has demonstrated its interest in moving aggressively and progressively on issues facing the environment, and we have to take into consideration plastics if we are going to deal with them. We are committed to doing this and have been working on it now for a number of years.

At the end of the day, as we continue this debate, members should feel comfortable in knowing they have a government that is progressive on the issue of plastics and our environment. We will continue to move Canada forward on this issue.