While opinions will vary about what level of environmental regulation is appropriate, there is little dispute that regulations are mounting. Further, those who are regulated continue to grow well beyond what was long thought to be reserved for the typical “smoke-stack” industry.
This growth of regulations and restrictions is personified in the recent efforts to eliminate plastics in various products. As we have previously covered, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is continuing its efforts to regulate and reduce plastics in various forms and uses.
Major Grocers to Develop Pollution Prevention Plans
The most recent effort is directed toward “major grocers” in the country. As stated by ECCC, the newly-developed Pollution Prevention Plan (P2 Plan) would set requirements for “Canada’s largest grocery retailers to prepare and implement a pollution prevention plan.”
Major grocers are defined as those that generate grocery retail sales in Canada over $4 billion annually.
This plan builds on the previous targeted ban on certain single-use plastics that was announced on June 22, 2022. The ban was initiated after plastics were added to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) as a “toxic substance.” As you may recall, that ban is currently being challenged in court.
According to ECCC, the P2 Plan “would be designed to meet targets set by the Minister for recycled content and for the reduction, reuse, and redesign of primary food plastic packaging.” ECCC also states that it would include targets for increasing the use of reuse-refill systems, concentrated products, and products free of plastic packaging.
For background see “Recycled content and labelling rules for plastics: Regulatory Framework Paper.”
Retail Council Comments
According to the report by the CBC, The Retail Council of Canada said the new policy targets large grocers exclusively. Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokesperson for the Council said that this is “impractical, as Canadian retailers lack direct control and influence over the global supply chain.” As stated in the article, grocery chains rely on plastic packaging because it’s cheap, lightweight, and flexible, and reduces food loss and waste.
Issuing a Notice
The proposed pollution prevention system would give ECCC the ability to issue a pollution prevention notice (a Notice) to qualifying companies.
In an August 17, 2023 blog by McCarthy Tetrault, they state that “The recipient of a Notice will be required to develop a P2 Plan for identified Schedule I substances under CEPA, which has included single use plastics since June 20, 2022. P2 Plans will be designed internally at the recipient’s corporate level and should feature various actions to reduce plastic waste where possible. It is important to note that only those companies that have received a Notice are required to submit a P2 Plan.”
In the blog, they also state that should a company that receives a Notice fail to meet the targets identified in its P2 Plan, this will not automatically constitute a compliance breach. Instead, that entity will be required to provide a report to ECCC addressing the deficiencies and explain why despite the elements set out in the P2 Plan, they were ultimately unsuccessful in achieving their targets.
While the penalties for this appear to be mild, at least for now, other more established environmental regulations have more substantial consequences and we continue to see larger fines than we have in the past.
The comment period on the consultation document closed on August 30, 2023.
If you need assistance with environmental permits, plans, or any other environmental-related issues, contact Christopher Pare’, P.Geo. Q.P. at 519-948-7300, Ext. 114.
Dragun Corporation does not use artificial intelligence in drafting our blogs or any other material.
This blog was drafted by Alan Hahn. Alan has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and completed a graduate program in Environmental Management. He has worked in environmental management for 45 years. He has written hundreds of blogs and articles. His published work includes HazMat Magazine, BizX Magazine, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, GreenStone Partners, Manure Manager Magazine, and Progressive Dairy.
This blog was reviewed by Christopher Paré, P.Geo. Chris is a senior geoscientist and manager of Dragun’s Windsor, Ontario, office. Chris has more than 30 years of experience on projects ranging from environmental site assessments (Phase One/Two ESA), excess soils, remedial investigations, soil and groundwater remediation, Permits to Take Water, Records of Site Conditions, vapour intrusion, and site decommissioning. Chris is a frequent speaker, author, and expert witness. See Chris’ bio.
Sign up for our monthly environmental newsletters.
Principled Foundation | Thoughtful Advice | Smart Solutions
Celebrating our 35th Year 1988-2023