A chemist examines Canadian plastics regulations

Dr. Peter Mirtchev, policy manager at the Canadian Chemical Industries Association, shared information about Canada’s new Federal Plastics Register, a legally binding global plastics treaty being pursued by some countries at the United Nations, and other Canadian codes and regulations related to chemical use, including restrictions on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, at the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance Summer Conference in Montreal, Quebec. The CIAC Plastics Division represents the Canadian plastics industry.

Piotr MirtczowIn his presentation “Plastics Regulations in Canada – What’s on the Horizon?” Mirtchev told conference participants: “We will talk about what is happening in the plastics regulatory space and how you can respond.”

Single-use plastics

Mirtchev started with the current changes to the single-use plastics ban, which was published in December 2021. Multiple notices of objections were filed in 2022, but the final regulations were published in June 2022. “The ban extends to the production, import and sale of the following six single-use plastics: checkout bags, straws, stirrers, wheels, cutlery and food products,” says Mirtchev. “But instead of bans, we need to invest in recycling infrastructure and innovation to take the $8 billion worth of plastics that currently ends up in landfills and put them back into the economy.”

Federal Register of Plastics

The new federal plastics register was first consulted in July 2022 and a technical document was published in April 2023. “The government took quick action,” says Mirtchev. The register is a data collection process that aims to standardize all available information on plastic flows. It aims to ensure data openness and availability, provide comprehensive and comparable information, provide benchmarks, and inform and encourage investment at every stage of the plastics life cycle, says Mirtchev. The product categories included include construction materials, although packaging, single-use plastics and electronics are in first place. “The data can be useful, but the registry, despite its good intentions, is too extensive,” says Mirtchev.


When PFAS were developed in the 1940s, “those were different times,” Mirtchev says. “The chemists were just happy to get the results and cared less about protecting the environment.” There are approximately 230 PFAS substances approved for use in Canada. “To the best of (CIAC’s) knowledge, there is no large-scale commercial production of PFAS in Canada,” he says.

Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution

A global treaty on plastic pollution is currently being drafted. UN member states have agreed to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop a legally binding global instrument on plastic pollution by the end of 2024. There will be five INC meetings to negotiate an agreement, followed by a diplomatic conference to facilitate the adoption of the treaty. “In April, progress was made towards streamlining the proposed treaty text,” he says. The last negotiation session will take place in November and December.

Industry advocacy

“We are trying to solve the problem of plastic pollution, not eliminate it completely,” Mirtchev concludes. “From a regulatory perspective, plastics occupy an important place and will continue to be in the spotlight. But there are ways the industry can respond.” Mirtchev’s recommendations included:

  • Urge governments to recognize the value of plastics as the sustainable choice that enables our modern lives.
  • Push to develop policies and regulations that encourage and accelerate the transition to a circular economy.
  • Government support should be sought and de-risked for investment priorities (e.g. advanced recycling technologies and decarbonization initiatives, recycling infrastructure).
  • Seek to align provincial/federal/international policies to support Canadian businesses to become more competitive.