Canada-wide Plastic Packaging Flows: A Progress Report


The 2023 Progress Report on plastics packaging in Canada focuses on the flow of plastic packaging waste in residential recycling and deposit return systems (DRSs). Using 2022 data and comparing it to the 2019 CPP Foundational Report, this report analyzes changes in plastic packaging, such as materials, recycling rates, and the impact of measures like plastic bag bans and DRS reforms.

The 2023 Progress Report also offers a broad look at the data sources used and their reliability, as well as the methods employed to estimate the present state of plastic packaging flows to support future decision-making.

Key Findings

  • Based on the best available data and estimates, Canada generated 978,899 tonnes of plastic packaging through the DRS and residential packaging and paper product (PPP) recycling systems in 2022. 
    • DRSs account for 8% and residential PPP systems account for 92% of the plastic packaging generated Canada-wide.
  • It is estimated that 20% of this plastic packaging was recycled nationwide (16% generated at-home and 60% of beverage containers managed through deposit return systems). 
  • Flexible packaging is estimated to have an overall recycling rate of 4% overall in these sub-sectors, with higher rates being achieved through deposit return systems.

Key Insights

  • While the data indicates improvements have been made in establishing recycling opportunities for all types of plastic packaging, the amount of rigid plastic recycling has not kept pace with the growth in its use and flexible packaging continues to be recycled at significantly lower rates than rigid packaging due to the complexity involved in recycling this material. Concerted efforts by circularity leaders are addressing these challenges.
  • There has been a significant expansion of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems for packaging and beverage containers. This transition to EPR will enable producers to harmonize the materials collected for recycling, build economies of scale to support recycling systems, and influence the future landscape of plastic packaging recycling in Canada.

While momentum is increasing to reduce plastic waste and pollution, sustainable solutions for plastics packaging in Canada require united efforts. We need to continue to boldly address and challenge the status quo to make a tangible impact. We are calling on all stakeholders in the plastics packaging value chain to join us to take action and scale solutions to address the plastic waste crisis. 

Click here to read the 2023 Progress Report.