Canadian Plastics Watch

Canadian Plastics Industry Association Newsletter on Environmental & Sustainability Initiatives       May 2016

Introducing ‘Canadian Plastics Watch’ Newsletter

The evolution in materials technology continues to propel plastics innovation in ways that touch every aspect of our daily living – electronics, transportation, packaging, aerospace, medicine, building and construction, alternative energy and more. Plastics have transformed our world and in the coming years, we’ll see more unimaginable innovations in new plastics intelligence. The challenge for the plastics industry, and specifically for the Post Use Resource Recovery program at Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), is to ensure that when they become waste, more plastic packaging and products are managed sustainably so resins are recovered for reuse and regeneration. Through this inaugural newsletter and the quarterly issues to follow, we will offer information and insights into how CPIA and the plastics industry are striving for and supporting social responsibility and sustainability. We welcome your comments, suggestions and questions.

  Krista Friesen

Krista Friesen 
CPIA VP, Sustainability

The Goal - No Plastic Litter in the Marine Environment

Every day, plastic products and packaging make their way into rivers, lakes, marshes and streams, either by accident, dramatic weather events and more carelessly, as litter. Through industry stewardship activities, CPIA seeks to change this so all forms of plastic waste are managed sustainably in Canada’s waste management systems and to minimize the amount of plastic waste lost to marine environments from coast to coast. Programs include better worker training, large and small scale cleanups and phasing out microbeads.

CPIA works in partnership with a number of like-minded organizations to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our waterways.

Preventing marine debris with Operation Clean Sweep

CPIA is the Canadian licensee of the Operation Clean Sweep program that seeks to prevent plastic resins – pellets, flakes and powder – from entering waterways. This industry-led program focuses on preventing releases of plastic production materials to marine environments through proper employee training and policies and procedures to prevent spills and facilitate cleanups at industrial facilities.

Support for phasing out microbeads in personal care products

Many wastewater treatment plants are not able to capture the plastic microbeads used in cosmetics and personal care products simply because the microbeads are so small and rinse off, unimpeded, into wastewater. Since 2015, CPIA has actively engaged with Environment and Climate Change Canada to share information and to contribute to effective regulation to address these issues. View our most recent submission on microbeads.

Managing plastic waste at commercial fisheries

At the end of their useful lives, webbing and nets used in commercial fishing operations contribute substantially to the generation of plastic wastes from these operations. Over the past year, CPIA has supported Scout Environmental in developing a program in the Great Lakes to identify key sources of plastic waste from local fisheries and to establish a recycling program for webs, nets and rigid fish boxes. In 2016, this program will expand to engage and educate employees in additional Lake Erie fisheries on proper waste management and recycling techniques for these materials.

Supporting shoreline litter management initiatives in Canada and worldwide

Ocean currents regularly leave plastic waste littered on shorelines around the globe. In Canada, CPIA supports cleanup activities and education campaigns that are focused on reducing marine litter. Key among these is the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, an initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre that, over 22 years, has removed 1.2 million kg of litter from Canadian waterways. In addition, CPIA has provided support for the Plastics Bank and Plastics for Change – two Canadian organizations that seek to increase the recycling capacity of developing nations and build awareness around the social and economic value of recycled plastics in waterways and on land.

CPIA’s Response to Ontario’s Draft Waste Legislation

As part of our commitment to working with the province on solutions for plastics recycling and waste diversion that are efficient and sustainable, that provide a high level of environmental protection, and that create economic opportunities in Ontario, CPIA has been actively involved in the consultation on the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 (Bill 151). In addition to submitting a written response to the EBR, CPIA also presented at the Standing Committee on Social Policy on April 18, 2016.

Representing the plastic industry sector, CPIA has participated in the consultations on Bill 151. CPIA provided information through written comments and a verbal presentation that touched on eight key items: 

  1. The importance of adding energy recovery to the traditional ‘3Rs’ hierarchy (reduction, reuse and recovery), as part of the list of resource recovery initiatives to be counted toward the province’s overall diversion rate
  2. A recommendation that because packaging manufacturers provide materials but do not make decisions about their use, they should not be considered as responsible producers under the regulation, and that ‘transport packaging’ should be removed from the regulation because it is not managed in Ontario municipal systems
  3. The need to harmonize materials accepted in programs across the province and provide research and development to address design and market capacity issues so more materials can be recycled, reused or recovered
  4. Requiring ICI sectors listed in the regulation to divert high-volume plastics (e.g., plastic bottles and pails, polystyrene foam food and food service packaging)
  5. A recommendation that future items considered to be in the public interest, such as mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gases, be addressed transparently by regulation rather than through policy statements which may not be subject to public review
  6. Support for landfill bans for materials that already have an established collection and recycling infrastructure
  7. Support for end-market stimulation, especially for new and emerging materials
  8. The value of employing a best use and life-cycle approach to materials to ensure that progress be measured broadly, rather than in singular terms such as tonnage of items diverted.    

The full CPIA submission can be viewed on our website at As in other jurisdictions across Canada, CPIA is eager to work with the Ontario government to promote sustainable solutions that increase resource productivity and enable efficient waste diversion systems for plastic packaging.

The Bill concluded second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy on April 6. For more information: view Waste Free Ontario Act.

Next Recycling Invention Could Improve Recovery of Plastic Packaging

Ground-breaking recycling technology is often inspired by the need to find ways to process emerging types of packaging. Optical sorters, for example, have aided in the expansion of the range of resource materials collected for recycling. The next big invention could be underway in the United Kingdom where new technology may revolutionize the way plastics, such as polypropylene (PP) packaging, high density polyethylene (HDPE) milk bottles and sleeved polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are sorted, tagged and recycled.  

 According to an article posted on, the system “will allow different coloured plastics and shrink-sleeves that often consist of different underlying plastics, to be separated at the recycling stage.”

Called the “Plastic Packaging Recycling using Intelligent Separation technologies for Materials (PRISM) project”, it is led by a consortium that includes Nextek, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme, UK) and Evolve Polymers.

“This could be the equivalent of an invisible barcode for plastics recycling,” Nextek’s managing director Edward Kosior said. “It is a significant step forward in the sub-categorisation of plastics which are sorted automatically at high speed.”

PRISM works by adding a UV light scanner to optical sorting equipment commonly used in MRFs. The UV light is capable of reading a fluorescent label which is added to the plastic package. A pilot program conducted by WRAP demonstrated yields of 97% with 95% purity, according to the article. Further development of PRISM is being funded by Innovative UK.

WRAP works in partnership with various organizations in the UK to provide practical advice to improve resource efficiency that delivers both economic and environmental benefits.

CPIA’s New Website is Live!

Earlier this year, CPIA refreshed and relaunched our website at presenting new and updated content in English and French.

For information about plastics from innovation to sustainability, the first place to look is Newly reorganized and refreshed, the website houses a wide range of information for consumers, business, industry, educators and government. It also provides access to the latest information on plastics recycling programs and tonnages recycled across Canada; executive remarks and presentations; blogs and events. There’s also a full section about environmental sustainability, focusing on waste management, energy impacts and managing land and marine based litter.

We invite you to share your feedback on the new site. Does it present information that’s useful to you? Is there anything missing? Please drop us a line at the CPIA Contact Form.

Did You Know?

  • The CPIA Image Bank offers free images and ready-made ads of plastic packaging for promotinal use by recycling programs
  • During Earth Week 2016 elementary schools across Canada participated in the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge.
  • Two New Online Directories available to help Canadians find a range of recycling locations for plastic film and foam.

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