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.


Scot Davidson  Conservative

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


Second reading (House), as of Feb. 27, 2020
(This bill did not become law.)


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.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


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)

Affordable Housing and Groceries ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2023 / 5:20 p.m.
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Scot Davidson Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, I always thank my colleague for his support of my plastics bill. I think he has spoken 96 times now on the importance of my plastics bill, Bill C-204, that is going through the Senate again. It will be back in the House.

In support of Lake Simcoe, I am glad he also supports our plan to put 15% of federal government properties into houses that people can afford.

June 12th, 2023 / 6:50 p.m.
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Scot Davidson Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

That's sort of a double-loaded question. I think the percentage is actually higher.

I spoke to the example of Ken during COVID. He said, “Scot, I don't want to plant my fields, because I'm afraid of not getting paid.” I told him not to do that, because, as we all know here, that would lead to less supply and less produce. Therefore, it would mean higher prices for the consumers and on and on and on.

In that one instance, and there's more than that, that actual low number doesn't capture all those Kens who are out there, number one. That's why I feel that number is low. This legislation will help a lot of small and medium-sized businesses. How much of that was reported, I'm not sure, but I think that number isn't quite right.

It was interesting to loop around on my last PMB on Bill C-204, the export of plastic waste for final disposal. The other issue was that the government said, “Scot, you know, this happened once or twice. It's not happening. We don't need this bill.” But the fact of the matter was that the Fifth Estate went out and tracked shipping containers that were going to Thailand with plastics. They were all operating under the cover of darkness. It was happening.

I think there's a lot captured in those statistics. I have a couple of farmers in my riding, out of that Leamington case, who were and who are currently worried. That's a huge number. They didn't get paid $200,000 in a receivable. A lot of our small and medium-sized farmers can't take that.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2023 / 4:45 p.m.
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Scot Davidson Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always interesting to hear my colleague from Winnipeg North speak about how much the Liberal government is doing.

People in my riding of York—Simcoe are on the outside looking in. I am going to give the hon. member a couple of examples. He spent about five minutes talking about oceans, but the member's government did not support my Bill C-204, which was to stop the export of plastic waste for final disposal. Basically, the Liberal government said that it was not happening. The funny thing was that The Fifth Estate tracked containers going to Thailand, which proved it, and asked the environment minister why the Liberals did not vote for it. It would be a sign, to stop dumping plastics into the lake and burning plastics.

Also, I alluded to waiting since 2015 for the Lake Simcoe cleanup. Where is the cleanup fund for Lake Simcoe? Here we are, eight years later, and there is no money for Lake Simcoe. I am happy the member is getting the water agency in Winnipeg, even though we asked for it in the Great Lakes and Lake Simcoe. Whether that is due to a by-election happening there now or not, I do not know.

I wonder if the member could comment on that.

The House resumed from June 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste), be read the third time and passed.

The EnvironmentStatements by Members

June 2nd, 2021 / 2:20 p.m.
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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 / 6:10 p.m.
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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

June 1st, 2021 / 6 p.m.
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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 / 5:55 p.m.
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St. Catharines Ontario


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 / 5:45 p.m.
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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 / 5:35 p.m.
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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.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste), be read the third time and passed.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

June 1st, 2021 / 5:20 p.m.
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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 / 5:15 p.m.
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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.

The House resumed from May 14 consideration of the motion that Bill C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste), be read the third time and passed.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Private Members' Business

May 14th, 2021 / 2:45 p.m.
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Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for introducing Bill C-204. There has been some discussion today, and he seems disappointed that some people on this side of the House have indicated that they are not going to vote in favour of it. However, it seems as though the NDP and the Bloc are onside with it, so I would suggest to the member that indeed a majority is a victory, even though it might not be unanimous.