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 C-204 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 C-204 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 C-204 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.