Plastic packaging is currently the subject of significant debate, both in Canada and globally. From a G7 perspective, efforts to address plastics are already underway with the June 2018 commitment to the Ocean Plastics Charter. The charter included commitments to work with industry to achieve significant reduction and recyclable goals by 2030 and 2040, respectively. In Canada, this led to commitments from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to work together to address plastic waste.
The CPMA Plastics Packaging Working Group was established in May 2019 and convened its first meeting shortly thereafter to begin the process of identifying a path forward to address the use of plastics within the produce sector, identify efforts already undertaken by industry and determine best practices and develop an industry-supported roadmap to maintaining food quality and safety while reducing the environmental impact of plastics. Phase one of the work focused on data collection to frame the situation within our sector. This research included consumer perception reviews, landscape review (industry practices, regulatory requirements and efforts around the globe), and industry consultations focused on product design, single use plastics and collection systems.
In addition, it has been noted in the Canadian Strategy on Zero Plastics that “Achieving the vision of a circular economy for plastics will require that actions be taken in many areas, in some cases to enhance current performance, and in others, to transform and adopt new practices and behaviours.” CPMA, with the support of our members and allied partners, hopes to advance efforts within our sector to ensure we have a vision based on sound science and business best practices that allows the opportunity for the produce industry to identify, prioritize and implement systems-wide changes.
The group has outlined the following objectives:
- Identifying the challenges and opportunities facing the produce industry, as well as its relative importance in reducing total plastic waste in Canada and globally.
- Investigating new opportunities, including innovations which can support the elimination of unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics.
- Ensuring plastics within the produce sector are reusable, recyclable or compostable, with a notable attention to the need for increased/improved recycling opportunities.
- Best communicating the trade-offs between ensuring food quality and safety and minimizing the environmental impacts of plastic packaging (Source: Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment – Nov. 2018).
On December 5, 2019, CPMA released the following documents outlining research done to date, and a roadmap moving forward:
On June 1, 2020, the Plastics Packaging Working Group published the CPMA Preferred Plastics Guide. This guide is intended to help inform and support CPMA members in their packaging decision making processes, and will be updated as developments in packaging materials, design and recycling capabilities warrant.