The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill , as reported (with amendment) from the committee.
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Madam Speaker, York—Simcoe is a great riding, the soup and salad bowl of Canada.
It is a privilege to rise in this House and speak once more to Bill , an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, final disposal of plastic waste. I am very grateful to my colleagues who have supported this proposed legislation and who worked to study and improve it over the last few months. I am also greatly appreciative of the contributions of the many experts, advocacy groups, industry organizations and other interested Canadians who offered their insight and expertise on Bill and the issues it will address.
It has been 462 days since I first introduced Bill in this chamber. We have lost a lot of time already. The impacts of plastic waste remains a significant and pressing concern here in Canada and around the world. Over time, discarded plastic breaks down, and if not dealt with properly, it ends up contaminating our lakes, oceans and rivers. It also threatens our ecosystem with drastic implications for wildlife and our natural environment.
Canada has both a national and global responsibility to step up and show leadership to address the impact of plastic waste. Sadly, under the government, we are doing the exact opposite. One of the greatest contributors to global plastic pollution has been the export of plastic waste from countries such as Canada to other countries around the world. Between 2015 and 2018, almost 400,000 tonnes of plastic waste were exported from Canada to foreign countries. We continue to ship almost 90,000 tonnes overseas every year. This is a serious problem.
Since China banned the import of all types of plastic waste in January of 2018, much of our plastic waste has been sent to Southeast Asia to countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Many of these countries lack the regulatory controls or waste management capabilities to properly dispose of plastic waste imported from Canada and elsewhere. Consequently, it has all too often been disposed of improperly. It is ending up in landfills, dumped in the ocean or burned.
This is having a harmful impact on the environment and on the population of these countries. In Indonesia, for example, the burning of plastic waste has increased the air pollution and caused contamination in the local food chain because of high toxin levels. These toxin levels are linked to serious, long-term health problems, such as cancer, respiratory illness, diabetes and compromised immune systems.
It is no wonder that many of the countries that have been inundated with plastic waste from abroad are now looking to put a stop to these imports. Last year, Malaysia returned more than 150 shipping containers of non-recyclable plastic waste to Canada and other developed countries. The Malaysian environment minister justified this decision by declaring, “we do not want to be the garbage bin of the world”. We all remember this incident.
Globally, many of Canada's counterparts around the world have already recognized how unsustainable and harmful the impacts of exporting plastic waste are. This includes countries that share our strong commitment to open global trade. Both Australia and New Zealand have brought in strict domestic controls on plastics, which include prohibiting plastic waste from their respective countries.
The United Kingdom is pursuing similar legislation, as have every member state of the European Union and 70 other countries. Additionally, 98 countries have ratified an amendment to the Basel Convention, which governs the transboundary movement of waste. This amendment bans the export of plastic waste from OECD countries to non-OECD countries.
Unfortunately, there has been no effort by Canada's Liberal government to address the continuing export of non-recyclable plastic waste and the devastating effects it is having on the environment. The Liberals have refused to establish a prohibition on plastic waste within our domestic laws. They have refused to ratify the comprehensive Basel Convention amendment that would address these issues.
In fact, they actively worked to negotiate a gaping loophole to get around existing international obligations governing the plastic waste trade. This cannot be allowed to continue. Now is the time for Canada to prohibit the export of non-recyclable plastic waste to foreign countries. This is why we are all here today.
Bill amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to prohibit the export of plastic waste for final disposal. The bill establishes this prohibition in a reasonable and effective manner that protects the environment while supporting the many innovative recycling and plastic reuse businesses that operate right here in Canada.
Bill targets plastic waste exports destined for final disposal. This is a specifically defined term that is clearly established within our domestic regulations and recognized within our international agreements. By doing so, this bill ensures that plastic waste will be recycled, reused, recovered or reclaimed in an environmentally sound manner. Plastic waste will continue to be exported, but plastic waste being exported just to be dumped in a landfill, released into the ocean or burned will no longer be permitted.
Bill strikes an important and delicate balance. It will put in place an export ban on non-recyclable plastic waste that will protect the environment. It will make sure that when Canadians throw something in their blue bin, it will not end up floating in the ocean halfway around the world. Critically, this would be accomplished in a responsible way that would provide certainty and clarity to Canadian industry. We need to support the many Canadian businesses involved in plastic recycling, which are doing so much to innovate and responsibly manage our plastic waste.
Bill further strengthens our ability to control what happens to our plastic waste when it is exported. Currently, once plastic waste leaves our borders, we lose much of our ability to ensure it is being handled properly. Most of our plastic waste is being sent to the United States across our shared border, the amount of which has been increasing significantly every year. More than 60,000 tonnes was shipped from Canada to the U.S. annually between 2017 and 2019. Last year that amount increased to over 83,000 tonnes.
Just last fall, the Liberal government negotiated a special agreement between Canada and the United States concerning plastic waste that has been criticized for being both opaque and uncontrolled. This arrangement allows for Canadian plastic waste exports to be shipped onward from the U.S. for final disposal in developing countries.
I ask members to bear in mind that the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention, and plastic waste exported from their country is not subject to the same controls. As such, many environmental groups are very concerned. They believe that Canada's plastic waste exports to the U.S. exploit a significant loophole in our global obligations on plastic waste that directly contravenes international law.
To address these concerns, Bill prohibits the export of non-recyclable plastic waste to all foreign countries. This ensures that the same environmental standards are applied to exported plastic waste, no matter where in the world it ends up, so that it is disposed of properly and our environment is protected.
Another key element of Bill is ensuring that the various types of plastic waste exported from Canada are addressed. That is why the list of plastic waste outlined in schedule 7 of Bill C-204 is derived directly from the internationally recognized annex IV(B) of the Basel Convention on plastic waste. Any of the items on the list can be added or removed by the minister through the Governor in Council as necessary.
I note that at committee, the member for successfully moved an amendment for schedule 7 to include PVC. This constructive addition to the list strengthens Bill further. I would like to thank the hon. member for her contribution.
Of course, any federal legislation concerning plastic waste will have implications on the provinces and the municipalities. At the local level, Canadians participate in recycling and curbside waste programs with the expectation that their plastic waste will be dealt with properly and in an environmentally sound manner.
Bill will do this. With the inclusion of subsection 1.4, we can be assured that it would respect all these constitutional jurisdictions. I would like to extend my appreciation to the hon. member for for this important addition.
Bill would apply fines and penalties against anyone who contravenes it, as they are already established in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Unfortunately, there are some bad actors who will try and get around these sorts of prohibitions. These fines will ensure that the law will be enforced and followed.
I have always believed that no one has a monopoly on good ideas, that the best solutions and the right way forward can come from anywhere, and it is becoming more important than ever to work together to make a difference. That is why it was so unfortunate that the Liberal government has opposed, delayed and blocked Bill at every turn. It opposes this bill, simply because it was sponsored by a Conservative member of Parliament, and continues to ignore the serious issues that it seeks to address.
Last month, the said, “We need to explore and capitalize on all our options for reducing plastic waste and pollution”, but by opposing Bill , the Liberals are rejecting a meaningful and effective measure to put an end to the plastic pollution of non-recycled plastic waste exports.
The Liberals' inaction on this issue is very unfortunate, but not unexpected. They have called the practice of sending non-recyclable plastic waste to developing countries beneficial. They refuse to see the deficiencies with our current legislation on plastic waste. Worst of all, they refuse to acknowledge the serious impacts plastic waste exports are having on the environment.
It is not just inaction. Unfortunately, during the environment committee study of Bill , Liberal members on the committee repeatedly and actively sought to undermine the legislative process and the will of the House with their conduct. This was very disappointing. Protecting the environment by addressing the export of plastic waste should not be a partisan issue. That is why I am pleased to have the support of the members of the NDP, the Bloc, the Green Party, and all of my Conservative colleagues. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the Liberals.
I think Canadians would be very disappointed to see the Liberal government failing to act on the environment yet again. We have seen this many times before. After all, this is the same Liberal government that cancelled the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund, which made such a difference in protecting Lake Simcoe and its ecosystem. It is unfortunate that, after the Conservatives pledged to bring back the cleanup fund, the showed up in Barrie and said the Liberals would do the same, but as we continue to see, the government is all talk and no action on the environment. The cleanup fund still remains cancelled today.
Canadians want to see real meaningful action to address the issue of plastic waste exports and the impact it is having on the environment. When it comes to the environment, there is no “out of sight, out of mind”. The impacts of plastic pollution affect us all. It is time for Canada to stop exporting non-recyclable plastic waste for other countries to deal with. This can finally be accomplished with Bill , so together, let us make this happen.
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by recognizing the work of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in its study of this bill. The work of the committee along with input from witnesses and others who participated in the study have given us a better understanding of the bill, its merits and, most important, its shortcomings.
This government continues to support work to address issues around plastic waste, including the impact of exports of plastic waste from Canada. However, the government maintains that Bill is not the appropriate vehicle to do so. As my colleague mentioned during a previous debate, significant progress has been made to address problematic exports of plastic waste from Canada since Bill was first introduced over a year ago.
To this day, 187 countries, including Canada, have ratified and are implementing controls agreed on at the international level on transboundary movement of hazardous and non-hazardous plastic waste destined for both recycling and final disposal.
Under the rules adopted by the parties to the Basel Convention in 2019, known as the plastic waste amendments, the transboundary movement of plastic waste among the parties to the convention can only take place if certain conditions are met and in accordance with certain procedures. All plastic waste, hazardous and non-hazardous, controlled under the Basel Convention requires prior informed consent of the importing country and any transit countries before the export can occur. This is true for waste destined for recycling or for final disposal.
Through the prior informed consent procedure, and this is important, countries enter into a joint process where the country of import must provide written consent to the import before the country of export can allow the export to occur. In providing its consent, the country of import confirms that the waste will be managed in an environmentally sound manner. In other words, the plastic waste amendments under the Basel Convention are designed to support recycling activities, while reducing exports of harder-to-recycle plastics to countries that may not be in a position to manage them in an environmentally sound manner. They also ensure that the importing party participates in the decision-making process by subjecting imports to its consent.
Given the inaccurate information provided to the committee during its study of the bill, I want to be clear. The Government of Canada has ratified the Basel Convention Plastic waste amendments and as of January 1, 2021, they have been fully implemented through Canada's domestic regulatory regime.
What does this mean? This means that under Canada's export and import of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material regulations, all plastic waste controlled under the Basel Convention, both hazardous and non-hazardous, is considered hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material under these domestic regulations and is subject to export controls. Given this, Canada is in full compliance with its obligations under the convention.
Bill differs from the internationally agreed approach, which has been adopted by all parties to the Basel Convention, by proposing a blanket stop to trade in plastic waste as defined by the bill and destined for final disposal. The bill actually has a more limited control on exports of plastic waste.
More specifically, the bill would prohibit the export of plastic waste that is listed in the schedule to the bill and destined for final disposal only, while our existing domestic regulatory regime not only controls what is likely a broader scope of plastic waste, but also for broader purposes: plastic waste destined for final disposal and recycling.
Should the bill be enacted, it would establish two coexisting regimes in Canada for the export of plastic waste. For plastic waste listed in the schedule to the bill and exported for final disposal, export would be prohibited. For all other plastic waste covered by the Basel Convention and not covered by the bill, exports for final disposal and recycling requires the prior informed consent procedure under the regulations. This would create confusion and uncertainty, making it very challenging for stakeholders to determine and understand their regulatory obligations.
I want to discuss some of the measures currently in place with respect to trade and plastic waste between Canada and the U.S., as concerns were raised at committee.
The U.S. is not a party to the Basel Convention. I want to clarify that the Basel Convention explicitly prohibits countries that have ratified it from trading in Basel-controlled waste with non-parties unless an agreement or arrangement is in place between a party and non-party, which requires that provisions are not less environmentally sound than those provided for by this convention.
As a result, Canada and the U.S. entered into an arrangement that affirms that plastic waste circulating between Canada and the U.S. is managed in an environmentally sound manner in both countries. As per the arrangement, both countries have in place and intend to maintain the measures that ensure the environmentally sound management of waste.
Therefore, while Basel-controlled plastic waste can be exported from Canada to the U.S., that waste can only be exported from the U.S. to another Basel party if the two have entered into arrangement or agreement that is compatible with the environmentally sound management of waste as required by this convention. There is more.
Basel-controlled waste exported from Canada, which transits through the U.S. but is destined to a party to the Basel Convention requires an export permit prior to export. Such a permit is only granted if the destination party explicitly grants consent to receive the waste.
It is also important that all parliamentarians understand that enacting the bill could potentially impact waste management in Canada. The implications raised at second reading and during the ENVI study of this bill merit consideration as we prepare to vote on whether this bill should pass and then be sent to the Senate.
A concrete impact of this bill is that exports of Canadian municipal solid waste for final disposal would be banned, given that it generally contains plastics covered by the bill. The export prohibition proposed by the bill is expected to impact waste management in Canada by increasing pressure on domestic waste management systems. The Ontario Waste Management Association, in its written correspondence to ENVI, raised concerns that the bill's prohibition would put severe pressure on already limited landfill capacity in Ontario. The correspondence also indicated that Ontario's landfill capacity was projected to be exhausted by 2034.
Before we enact a prohibition of this nature at the federal level, we will need to consult with our territorial, provincial and municipal partners to ensure we fully understand and assess the impact that a prohibition of this kind would have on domestic waste management. For this reason and all the others I have explained, we remain opposed to the enactment of this bill.
I encourage fellow parliamentarians to carefully consider the current regime on transboundary movement of plastic waste along with the domestic implications of the bill if it were to become law.
Madam Speaker, based on what I am hearing from members, it seems as though no one is interpreting Bill the same way.
The bill introduced by my colleague from has made its way to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I thank the member for the speech he just gave, because he gave a good description of how plastic can harm the environment and human health if it is not strictly controlled.
The content of the bill seems to be a hot-button issue, especially among companies in the recycling industry and the plastics trade. This is where the Basel Convention, which is not mentioned in Bill C-204, comes in, and more specifically the amendments to annexes II, VII and IX of this convention. These amendments came into force on January 1, 2021, and were accepted by the Government of Canada on December 20, 2020. The House indicated its intention to comply with these amendments on October 28, 2020, in an explanatory memorandum.
The preamble of the Basel Convention states that the production of wastes should be minimized and, where possible, “be disposed of in the State where they were generated”. The main body of the convention states that the exporting country must receive prior informed consent from the recipient country before hazardous wastes are sent.
The amendments set out a list of plastics that it is prohibited to export, unless the importing country has made an informed decision and can dispose of those plastics in an environmentally friendly way. Companies involved in the trade of plastic waste with the United States who communicated with members of the committee say that Bill C-204 will have a major negative economic impact on their activities. They are concerned about the constraints imposed by Bill C-204.
Clearly, there are irritants for companies in the sector, which are now facing additional constraints. They must consult the annex of the Basel Convention to determine which substances are now identified as hazardous under the convention and they must also comply with national law in that regard. What is more, if the trade in plastics continues, clear labelling will be required so that the countries that are importing these materials are not receiving non-compliant packages, for example.
The note that I mentioned earlier that was submitted to the House on October 28 explained the following: Canada and the United States came to an arrangement to confirm that plastic waste that is subject to annex II of the convention is managed in an ecologically sound manner. Canada therefore complies with its obligations under the convention and is now in a position to accept the amendments.
In the wake of the trade concerns that were raised, I really would have liked to have some clarification on the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, given that the United States is not a signatory of the Basel Convention. Unfortunately, the officials chosen by the government to answer MPs' questions on Bill C-204 were very clear when they said they could not talk about the specifics of the bill.
It is important to understand that collection and recycling centres operate best when they are located near major consumer centres. Our neighbours to the south have more sites because their population justifies it. I am not suggesting that the United States is a champion of the circular economy, I would never say that, but the fact remains that Americans are buying our plastic waste because they know how to reclaim it. The officials explained the waste package tracing system saying that possible dumping to a third party would be unlikely.
The truth is that we do not have the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs in this area. We must absolutely take action on this issue to limit as much as possible the export of any and all plastics until we are able to reduce our waste, which would be ideal.
There is still a lot of work to be done. Why not adopt an approach where this resource would be developed here? Let us keep this economy and its jobs. It is good for the environment in Quebec and in Canada.
All the discussions in committee, along with the readings and debates on this critical issue directly related to our capacity to deal with our waste here, lead me to reiterate the following facts.
The Bloc Québécois believes that, before we even consider exporting plastic waste, Canada has a duty to rethink how materials circulate in the economy. We fully subscribe to the Basel Convention's preamble.
As it happens, the committee study on single-use plastics ties in with Bill . Though separate, the study addresses another aspect of the plastics issue: what we produce and consume, what we can eliminate, what virgin resin producers want to maintain, what we need to do to establish a true circular economy sooner, and more.
I will not go into detail about the data, the stats, per capita plastic production and consumption, the difference between “toxic” and “dangerous”, or the environmental consequences of the massive plastic burden we are saddled with.
The government may not have been ready for the reaction of industries affected by Bill C-204, which, to be clear, requires Canadian legislation to align with the Basel Convention, but it had plenty of time to get ready. The government has known since at least 2019 that the Basel Convention amendments had to be adopted. It ratified them at the eleventh hour without bothering to help industry prepare. Anyway, that is how it looks to me, and it has to be said.
For its part, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has been discussing plastics for several years. How is it that an international agreement like the Basel Convention and its important amendments has never been examined? We need concrete action and state-of-the-art recycling and reclamation facilities. Quebec has a pool of expertise, especially with respect to the circular economy, that is more than willing to participate in this work.
As elected members of a legislative assembly, I believe it is our duty to legislate. Laws determine conduct and guide society towards transformation, especially in the case of markets. However, we also have a duty to guide the economic and social environments that must adapt.
Yes, we must implement measures. They need not be draconian, but they must be planned. Our decisions must result in predictability. When industries and economic sectors are kept abreast of the acts and regulations put in place by the legislator in their regard, the market adapts and workers can be trained. In order for this adaptation to occur properly, there must be reasonable deadlines. I am not talking about unlimited deadlines dictated by the stakeholders, but deadlines that are established by listening to their concerns.
I am pleased that my colleagues from the committee were receptive to my amendments to change the timeline for implementing Bill in order to provide this predictability and respect the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. Speaking objectively, it would have been preferable if this had been done from the outset.
In what should be called the great plastics file, the governments of Quebec and the provinces should be at the heart of the discussion. In fact, the key element of Bill is the management of waste materials, which is a responsibility exclusive to Quebec and the provinces.
I will close by simply reminding members that the federal government holds 50% of tax revenues, but only a meagre 6.8% of the responsibility for municipal infrastructure. Municipalities must get what they need to participate in the economy of tomorrow. Quebec and the provinces are relying on the federal government to give them their fair share, especially since the government is focusing heavily on eliminating plastic waste.
Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House today to take part in this very important debate, one that affects us all. The NDP has been raising concerns about plastic waste for several years now.
We are talking about the export of plastic waste, and there is a lot to say on the subject. I am also going to talk about reducing the use of plastics in general and especially single-use plastics, such as water bottles, which unfortunately are still used too often. I will also address the topic of reducing waste in general, plastic or otherwise, since this is the source of many problems.
I would be remiss if I did not highlight local initiatives in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. People really want to see action taken by businesses that have a vision for reducing plastic waste and waste in general.
I would like to applaud the initiatives of some of our local shops: Épisode, Vrac & Bocaux, La Cale zero-waste pub, Méga Vrac Rosemont, Rose Ross, La Brume dans mes Lunettes, Le Frigo de Bacchus, La réserve naturelle, La fabrik éco, Dispatch café, Manitoba, Véganation and Le Cornélien, not to mention Vrac sur Roues. That last one is not located in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, but it delivers bulk products by bike and therefore does not produce any greenhouse gases. Delivery is available in my riding and in other neighbourhoods.
My first point is about exports of plastic waste, which is what Bill is about. If I have time, I will also talk about the use of plastic in general and waste reduction.
The situation right now is alarming. As my colleague said, there are plastic islands in our seas and oceans. In fact, a plastic continent is floating around the Atlantic Ocean, not to mention the plastic pollution littering the shores of our rivers and lakes and the St. Lawrence River. For years, people have been participating in clean-up campaigns and picking up as much litter as possible to stop fish and turtles from dying due to the plastic bags that are washing up on shore and to have a cleaner environment that is not so damaged by the presence of humans and industry.
Canada is truly a lame duck when it comes to plastics exports. Our country is not assuming its responsibilities and is literally shovelling its waste into the neighbour's yard when we are no longer willing or able to manage it here.
I would like to point out that this problem has probably been exacerbated by the pandemic. More plastic is being used today, often for medical reasons that are quite understandable. As for greenhouse gas emissions, the economic downturn has probably helped bring them down a bit or at least kept them stagnant rather than increasing them. With respect to plastic pollution, the pandemic has probably made it worse, because of all the masks we still have to wear. It is obviously understandable why we need to wear them, but that does not make it any less of a problem. Instead, the problem has only worsened, and it is even more important to find solutions quickly.
In 2018, Canada shipped 44,000 tonnes of plastic waste to other countries. Many will recall the quarrel between Canada and the Philippines. We had to spend over $1 million to bring back 69 illegally shipped containers. For six years we tried to convince the Philippines to dispose of the waste we had shovelled into to their yard. We wanted them to deal with our waste and our problems.
This is not the only time that this has happened. This year the Malaysian government sent 11 shipping containers of plastic waste back to Canada. We are incapable of taking responsibility and complying with the international agreements that the member for spoke about a little earlier.
Canada is incapable of dealing with its own plastic waste or reducing its plastic consumption. We send it to third world countries and ask them to dispose of our waste, which sometimes includes medical waste.
We do this because our capacity for recycling the plastic waste we produce is far too limited. Generally, this waste used to be shipped to China, but it has decided, quite rightly, to refuse because we are unable to handle it ourselves. However, not only is it the right thing to do, it is the responsible thing to do. It can also be a niche market that could create jobs. Having the capacity to recycle waste is good for the environment and could be good for the economy.
A few years ago, I toured a business in the heart of Quebec that was shredding laundry soap containers made of type 2 plastic, a fairly hard plastic. They made small pellets that were then used to manufacture irrigation pipes for our farmers. Instead of burning this plastic or throwing it into fields or rivers, the company reused this plastic and turned it into a product that agricultural producers need. What was even more extraordinary with this company was that it fostered labour market integration as most of the people hired had a hearing impairment. This created jobs for people who generally face barriers to employment.
I think we need to be aware of the need to reduce our use of plastics, especially single-use plastics. Plastic needs to be recycled, and that takes infrastructure. The fact that we do not have that infrastructure in this day and age is outrageous. The various levels of government, including the federal government, should invest to help us recycle plastic. However, we must reduce our use of plastics.
For example, it is not that hard to pick up prepared foods from the store using a recyclable container brought from home instead of the store's styrofoam container. It is not that hard to carry around a small reusable water bottle for when we get thirsty. More and more people are doing it, but, unfortunately, even more people are buying their drinking water in plastic bottles, when there is tap water at home, free, filtered municipal water that is perfectly good to drink.
If we are to reduce the use of plastic, we also need to talk about over-packaging. This is important. I am very pleased to represent the riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, which hosted the first ever plastic attack in all of North America. It has happened a few more times since.
Two or three years ago, three young women asked people leaving a grocery store to remove all of the plastic packaging from their fruits and vegetables. Their goal was to teach these people that they did not need to purchase over-packaged products and that they could use reusable or mesh bags to do their groceries. They were also sending a message to the grocery store owners that people would rather purchase products that are not over-packaged.
One of the examples I talk about a lot and that drives me crazy is when bananas are sold on a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic and wrapped in another layer of plastic. Bananas come with a peel. They are already protected and need no extra packaging.
There are so many changes to be made to our production and consumption patterns. This plastic attack was done in collaboration with the grocery store, and people quite liked being asked to think about these issues.
We also need to reduce how much waste we produce in general. We are told that Quebeckers and Canadians are among the largest waste producers in the world, with an average of two kilograms per person per day. To change these habits, we will need to make a tremendous effort collectively, but also locally and individually.
These new habits will cause different businesses to change how they offer their products. I have to come back to the great initiatives of all the businesses, grocery stores, pubs and restaurants aiming for zero waste. We should be encouraging them, because these are all excellent initiatives. They can be found across Quebec. We must identify which businesses are doing it and encourage them.
Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to speak to this timely bill brought by my colleague, the member for . Before I get to the details of Bill and the impact that this proposed legislation has already had on a government that was dragging its feet in joining the global movement to ban the export of hazardous plastic waste, I would like to thank the member for his wider, passionate and loud commitment to the magnificent body of water that lends its name to his constituency. It is about an hour's drive north of my riding of Thornhill. I am speaking of Lake Simcoe, of course.
Since his arrival in the House of Commons after his election two years ago, the member has regularly raised his voice urging the government to re-establish the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund, killed by the Liberals in 2017. The virtual challenges imposed on the workings of the House over the past year have forced us to limit attendance on the Hill and to work from constituency offices and homes. While all of this has frustrated many members, the MP for has taken advantage of his remote technology a number of times to bring the lake, and the government's dereliction of duty to a cleaner Lake Simcoe, to the attention of the House and Canadians. He positioned himself in front of the lake one time, and as he has referred to today, he made a statement while actually standing in Lake Simcoe in hip waders to call for re-establishment of the highly effective cleanup fund our Conservative government funded for 10 years.
His proposed legislation, Bill , is on one hand simple in the changes that it proposes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, but also profound in what it could achieve. As the member for reminded us when he spoke, for far too long Canada has been sending too much of the plastic waste that we all generate to other countries for disposal.
There was a time when there was a significant market for clean and sorted plastic waste, both in Canada and abroad, particularly in China. A corporate constituent in my riding of Thornhill was producing a broad range of products 10 years ago that included furniture, planks for decks and docking, buckets, barrels, sports gear and so forth made from a variety of plastic waste material. It was bumped from the market when China began outbidding it and other Canadian recyclers for Canada's plastic waste.
In 2017, after dominating international trade in waste plastic, China abandoned the practice and the market because its customers around the world raised their quality standards on imported recyclables. These included Canada, to its credit.
That recycling market was for clean, select and sorted plastic waste. More of Canada's plastic waste, much of it contaminated, has been exported to the United States and a number of Asian countries for disposal by incineration, landfilling or abandonment. As the member for points out, between 2015 and 2018 almost 400,000 tonnes of Canadian plastic waste was shipped to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, China and the United States.
In many of these countries where environmental standards actually exist, they are often very poorly enforced. These tonnes of waste are not only irresponsibly burned or improperly added to landfills. In many cases they are simply dumped and defile the environment, groundwater, surface water and air. Unlike China, which banned waste plastic because of market rejection, some of those countries are now prohibiting plastic waste trade for environmental reasons, in some cases because of the sudden surge in plastic waste dumped on their countries resulting from the huge tonnage rejected by China.
Canada's environmental image abroad was bruised terribly last year when the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia demanded that Canada, at great cost to Canadian taxpayers, repatriate thousands of tonnes of contaminated plastic waste that had been dumped on their rural communities and countryside. All of this happened at the same time as countries around the world came together to more responsibly regulate the way countries controlled the import and export of plastic waste in its many forms.
Party countries to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, a convention that was created in 1989 in the wake of scandals involving the dumping of toxic waste in Africa and other developing countries, agreed, in 2019, to update the Basel Convention to ban the transboundary movement of plastic waste from industrialized countries to developing countries, specifically the types of plastic waste that are considered hazardous and contaminated.
Members will remember that I mentioned earlier that Canada has been dragging its feet in joining the global movement to ban the export of plastic waste. The government failed to demonstrate leadership by not immediately joining other countries in the ratification of the Basel Convention amendments, and that is where Bill made a big difference even before this debate. The Liberals, who had been derelict in their duty again to ratify the Basel amendments, suddenly, two days before the member for was to speak to this bill, announced that they would ratify it, and they did, although they were more than a year late, 18 months late, and after 186 other countries had signed.
Now, does that mean that the export of all plastic waste from Canada will suddenly stop? Unfortunately not. The Basel Convention amendments apply to a specific list of types of plastic considered hazardous, but not to another list of plastic waste that is presumed not to be hazardous, provided these safe, uncontaminated waste plastics are destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner. The Liberals think that makes it okay for some Canadian waste plastic to be exported. They claim that it helps businesses abroad, as if Canada's plastic trash is some kind of development assistance.
This makes Canada an outlier in the OECD, because there is another amendment to the Basel Convention, known as the ban amendment, which bans absolutely the export of plastic waste from OECD countries to non-OECD countries. There are 98 countries that have signed that amendment, democracies such as Australia and the United Kingdom, but to date, Canada refuses to sign.
Canadians watching from home or reading a transcript of my speech today in Hansard should know that much of the media reporting on these issues confuses the two amendments, which the Liberals use to their advantage when they claim that Bill is unnecessary because Canada signed, belatedly, the first amendment.
The sponsor of Bill , the member for , believes that Canada should not be exporting any plastic waste. The member believes that because there are any number of Canadian companies prepared and capable of recycling plastic waste, it is time for Canada to stop treating the rest of the world as a dumping ground for Canadian plastic waste.
He referenced in his speech an Alberta company that can convert all types of plastic to diesel fuel. It is ready to build refineries across the country that could convert 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste a day, diverting more than a million tonnes from landfill and foreign destinations. He mentioned another company in Nova Scotia that, like my corporate constituent in Thornhill, could manufacture a broad range of products from plastic waste. However, these companies need access to adequate volumes of clean plastic waste to make their business plans work, and if Canada kept its vast tonnage here, they would work.
The member for told the House that Canadians from coast to coast want action on this environmental issue. He said that the Liberal government could no longer justify a practice that many other industrialized countries have ended, and that developing countries should no longer be expected to fulfill disposal services that we should take care of in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
I agree with my colleague from , and I hope all members will join me in supporting his bill, Bill .