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OIL & GAS INDUSTRY: Canadian Plastics Registry Coming!

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Fresh off of its announcement of a major plastic ban (see our prior blog here), the Canadian federal government is now also moving forward with a plan to heavily regulate the plastics that do remain in the Canadian economy, by imposing a mandatory federal “plastics registry”.

The Liberal Government plan is currently in the consultation stage, which means that producers, importers, distributors and retailers have until October 7, 2022 to provide input.

What is the Government Thinking?

The idea of the plastics registry was mentioned in PM Justin Trudeau’s Mandate Letter to the current Environment Minister, and appears part of Trudeau’s stated goal of achieving Zero Plastic Waste by 2030. Hmmm ... .

The proposed registry is in-line with the preferred approach taken by the federal government when it comes to plastics regulation – namely, “Extended producer responsibility” or “EPR” – which effectively makes producers responsible for plastics from “cradle to grave”. This is done by requiring producers to fund and operate programs to collect and manage plastic products and packaging at their end of life.

Thus, the Canadian federal plastics registry is meant to support EPR by providing a single data collection point, in place of the patchwork provincial/territorial system that currently exists in Canada.

What Plastics Will be Covered?

Plastic packing is likely to be front and center, being both the largest source of plastic in the Canadian economy and the largest source of plastic waste.

Other key targets will be construction plastics, with the federal government’s background paper making a point of saying that there are currently no EPR policies in Canada for such plastics. Also targeted will be automotive plastics, electronics and electrical equipment, textiles, major appliances, and agricultural film (think woven plastics used to make bags for bulk seed).

Who Will Have to Register?

The federal government’s initial position is that the “obligated producer” (i.e., the person responsible for providing plastics data) should be the one who has the most control over a product’s design. Who exactly that is remains unclear, but it looks like figuring out whether and how brand owners, first importers, distributors, manufacturers and/or retailers should fit into a reporting system will be a key part of the ongoing consultation process.

What Information Will Be Required to be Reported?

The plan is to require producers to register with federal, provincial and territorial governments and provide information that will help establish:

  • The amount of plastic placed in the market;
  • The amount of plastic collected for diversion, successfully reused, repaired, remanufactured, refurbished or recycled;
  • The amount of plastic incinerated for energy recovery; and
  • The amount of plastic imported and exported.

Commentary

Talk about government over-regulation! The federal plastics registry will represent a HUGE compliance headache for businesses, both in the short term (for setup) and long term.

Oil & gas industry participants with downstream plastics businesses will need to stay informed of these developments as this registry will be industry impacting. We will also be keeping track of this regulatory initiative as it develops – so stay tuned!

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