Recycled Content Threshold Levels in New Plastic Products Manufactured and Sold in Alberta

Resolution Category Provincial Scope 9
Subject Environment
Year 2019
Status Defeated
Sponsor - Mover
Lethbridge, City of
Active Clauses

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT AUMA advocate for the Government of Alberta to adopt a standard by which new plastic products made in Alberta would contain a minimum of 15 per cent recycled content by 2023.

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT AUMA advocate for the Government of Alberta to work with the Government of Canada and other provinces to establish a national standard and timeline for increased threshold levels for recycled content in plastic products manufactured and sold in Canada.

Whereas Clauses

WHEREAS 187 countries including Canada are members of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of hazardous Wastes and their Disposal;

WHEREAS the Basel Convention focuses on the reduction of hazardous waste generation and the promotion of environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes wherever the place of disposal;

WHEREAS the Basel Convention is amending the rules to reduce the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans, forcing developed countries to deal with their own wastes; and

WHEREAS there is increasing difficulty in finding markets for plastic wastes.

Resolution Background

A recent study by Deloitte for Environment and Climate Change Canada shows that only 9 per cent of the 3.2 million tonnes of plastic waste generated each year in Canada is recycled.  As much as 2.8-million tonnes ends up in Canadian landfills.

The Chinese National Sword policy came into effect February 2018. Basically, the policy banned import of foreign recyclables. It banned four categories and 24 types on imports starting in 2018. The policy could potential ban all incoming recyclable materials by 2020. The shift in policy resulted in the ban of the import of 24 types of recyclable commodities. This has resulted in China cutting its imports of scrap plastic by 96 per cent. 

This has created huge challenges for marketing the plastics that were collected for recycling in some Canadian municipalities.  The limited market demand for the recyclables has reduced program revenue which affects the financial viability of some municipal recycling programs.

In November of 2018, federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers agreed to work collectively toward a common goal of zero plastic waste.  To this end, the Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment (CCME) approved in principle a ‘Canada Wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste’.  This strategy outlines a vision to keep all plastics in the economy and out of the environment.

In alignment with the ‘Canada Wide Strategy on Zero Waste’, it would be prudent for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to urge the Government of Alberta to enter into discussions with industry representatives to determine a reasonable threshold level for recycled plastic content in new plastic products manufactured or sold in Alberta. Based on information from North American recycling and compounders, a 15 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in new plastics products is recommended.

To transition from a linear economy to a circular economy, the demand for recycled content must match the production of recyclable materials recovered from the residential and commercial sectors. A circular economy prioritizes the reuse of what is already available over the extraction and disposal of natural resources.

CCME will develop an action plan that sets out the measures and actions needed to implement the strategy for ministers to consider in 2019. The plan will be developed in collaboration with stakeholders from across the plastics value chain and with a range of other interested parties.

The strategy identifies as a key result area the need for strong domestic markets and varied end uses to drive demand for recycled plastics. Creating strong market demand will be achieved by mandating minimum post-consumer recycled content in plastics for products that are sold in Alberta, and in other Canadian jurisdictions.

More information can be found on the “Canada Wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste” from CCME: