Comparing Current Plastic Waste Policies in Canada and China

Comparing Current Plastic Waste Policies in Canada and China

A Policy Brief by BCCIC Climate Change

Plastics have become part of every Canadian’s lifestyle, whether it is in the form of a plastic bag, the packaging for a bag of chips, or the polyester in our clothes. Yet, its short use time and forgotten afterlife has proved to be incredibly harmful to our environment. As a result, the proper management of plastic waste and recyclables is increasingly important in order to halt their potential environmental effects. This report first details the current policies and actions introduced by Canada and China. Secondly, it considers the differences in governance structures between these two countries by comparing and contrasting how they approach the issue of plastic waste. Finally, it utilizes the newfound understanding of Canadian and Chinese policies to further make recommendations to better Canada’s current efforts.

  • Once the largest importer of plastic waste, China has introduced strict measures like the Green Fence policy and the National Sword policy to require higher quality plastic recyclables from importers and to control the overflow of waste in their facilities;
  • China has made domestic efforts in tackling plastic waste, announcing the Direction on Further Strengthening the Control of Plastic Waste, which sets a timeline from 2020 to 2025 to meet specific improvements towards managing plastic waste;
  • Canada has adopted a range of policy statements and pieces of legislation that set out the ways in which the federal government is aiming to ban plastic pollution;
  • The province of B.C. has taken matters into their own hands to establish the CleanBC initiative which includes a Plastics Action Plan aiming to advance plastic waste policies;
  • In a democratic governance system like Canada, its reliance on voter popularity in the election cycle makes short-term results more desirable than long term ones, proving difficulty in advancing environmental issues. Additionally, the split in federalist governance must come together to endorse a comprehensive policy;
  • China’s centralized government system has identified plastic waste as an issue and authorized the swift fabrication of policies to tackle it. Yet, its authoritarian regime may also indicate the suppressing of information and opinions from civil society upon implementation of such policies.

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