Canada breaks its silence to announce formal support for a new international plastics treaty

Canada has committed to join the ranks of progressive nations to support the establishment of a body to begin negotiating a new global agreement to tackle the mounting crisis of plastic pollution. 

More than two-thirds of all countries now support starting discussions on a new binding global agreement to tackle plastic pollution and many hopes are pinned on the convening of an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) at the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2022.

EIA has been at the forefront of seeking a plastics treaty since 2017 and recently led a call, endorsed by 42 eminent scientists and researchers from 18 of Canada’s leading Institutions, including University of Toronto, University of Alberta and the David Suzuki Foundation, to urge Environment and Climate Change Canada to break its silence on the treaty discussion; it did so in a statement released on 21 May.

Christina Dixon EIA’s Deputy Ocean Campaign Leader, said: “We’re delighted to see Canada come out in support of treaty negotiations, clearly demonstrating the concern about plastic pollution across different geographies, contexts and environments.

“We hope that this support translates into commitment to an ambitious treaty covering the full lifecycle of plastics.”

With Canada now onside, there is a unique opportunity to press upcoming high-level meetings to start fleshing out how best to tailor national commitments, address the gaps in existing governance structures and prepare the ground for a new global agreement, including developing an adaptive framework that responds to evidence from scientists, indigenous communities and civil society.

Dixon added: “The global plastic supply chain, from production to product design and waste management, is complex and represents the often-unseen side of the plastic pollution problem we’re facing.

Plastic pollution in Bali, Indonesia

“It’s clear that countries are increasingly aware that doing nothing about plastic is no longer an option – it’s time to step up to the plate and start meaningful conversations about how to get this process moving.”

Canadians discard three million tonnes of plastic waste a year, only nine per cent of which is recycled, meaning the vast majority of plastics end up in landfill or are incinerated – and about 29,000 tonnes finds its way into the natural environment.

To combat this, Canada has recently committed to an ambitious national plastic pollution prevention agenda, including a pledge to achieve zero-waste by 2030 and a commitment to lead on an international Ocean Plastics Charter, bringing in parties from across the plastic value chain to commit to plastic reduction.

* Find out more about how a global plastics treaty might work and what it could look like