Land-Based Litter

Communities across Canada have completed studies to understand what materials make up the largest components of litter to determine how to encourage people to manage waste products properly.

    Trended and collective data from Canada and the United States over recent decades show that plastic shopping bags represent  LESS THAN 1% OF ALL LITTER. 
Click here for report.  


Very few cities in Canada have litter laws. They have anti-dumping laws but only one or two have littering laws focused on the behaviour versus the material.

Littering is a people problem not a material problem. 

A 2014 audit of litter in Toronto pointed to paper waste – napkins and other materials as being the major source of larger litter and cigarette butts and used chewing gum pulling ahead as litter sources with smaller materials.

Plastic materials like bottles, foam cups and plastic wrap are also components of land-based litter. Although there is evidence suggesting an overall decline in land-based litter for some items, for CPIA, any litter is too much, and we continue to provide support for initiatives to reduce littering of plastic items, including:

  1. Special programs: Support for additional collection at special events (e.g., Ottawa Army Run)
  2. Promote: Provide support to promote ongoing collections and clean up events
  3. Educate: Communities across the country promote public education with campaigns to combat litter and educate people about why it’s important. The City of Vaughan (ON) is just one example of a community that’s educating its residents to help combat litter in public places
  4. Engage: Support and take action by participating in clean up activities
  5. Develop: 24/7 commitment to 5Rs hierarchy activities (including source reduction)

There are many simple initiatives that our members and other partners can get involved in as well to reduce litter.

Here’s our litterless top-3: 

For Industry

  1. Tag corporate advertising with litter prevention reminders
  2. Incorporate litter prevention messages with information targeted to key consumers of varying product groups.
  3. Partner with environmental, conservation groups, municipalities and others in the product supply chain on effective anti-littering and cleanup programs
  4. Assess and implement initiatives to manage specific items like plastics bags and caps at the end of life in a way that is economically and environmentally sustainable where possible, in partnership with industry and other partners. Be as diligent on the road as you are at home
  5. Participate and where possible, take leadership in litter reduction initiatives.

For Consumer

  1. Dispose responsibly wherever you are. There is never any good reason to litter
  2. Prevent fly-aways – if it’s a windy day find something heavy to anchor your lighter outdoor materials and recyclables like plastic bags, plastic wraps and paper napkins
  3. Count first, pack second – make sure you’ve accounted for all your bottles and items before you pack up your waste when you’re leaving an outdoor site
  4. Always leave a campsite (or any other outdoor site) better than you found it – in addition to picking up after yourself, if you can safely pick up just one more container that you see lying around – go for it!
  5. Think reuse – when you go for a picnic or an outdoor excursion – as much as possible use reusable packaging so you’ll be more likely to remember to bring it home with you

For Municipalities & Recycling Programs

  1. Place recycling bins beside garbage bins wherever possible in public spaces
  2. Use clear signage to show what materials should be recycled every time
  3. Promote litterless events at public spaces
  4. Use social and electronic media to demonstrate why preventing litter matters in your community
  5. Always remind residents that they can take their waste materials home for proper recycling or disposal (and studies show lots of people will do it!)