Ottawa wants to end confusing labeling for recyclables, says environment minister

Steven Guilbeault admits that even he, a former member of Greenpeace and co-founder of Équiterre, sometimes struggles to understand the system.

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Canadians will see clearer labeling on recyclable items, federal Environment Secretary Steven Guilbeault said Monday, announcing that Ottawa will launch a public consultation to introduce legislation to that effect.

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The current labeling system is a source of confusion in many households, Guilbeault said at a news conference in Terrebonne, adding that even he, a former Greenpeace member and co-founder of Équiterre, sometimes struggles to figure it out.

“I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look at something that isn’t clear, so I have to check the city’s website,” he said. “We want this to be super easy, super easy.”

The new system would prevent the use of the three curved arrows on products if less than 80 percent of Canadians have access to recycling systems that accept such products, Guilbeault said. “What we want to do is standardize so it’s much easier to recycle across the country.”

The new rules would also regulate the use of the words “biodegradable” and “compostable” on plastic products and require such products to be certified by a third party.

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