Environment ministers to reduce product packaging

Canada's environment ministers have agreed to to cut down on the amount of consumer product packaging that often ends up in landfills.

Canada's environment ministers have agreed to cut down on the consumer product packaging that often ends up in landfills.

Meeting in Yellowknife on Tuesday, federal, provincial and territorial environment said they will develop a nationwide approach to reduce the packaging waste across the country.

Product packaging in Canada often ends up in landfills, especially in northern locations such as Yellowknife, which have limited recycling services. ((Donna Lee/CBC))

"That will involve talking to industry and working with them collaboratively to design systems that not only reduce the amount of packaging that is used but also ensure that that packaging is sustainable," British Columbia Environment Minister Terry Lake told reporters later.

The overpackaging of consumer products with non-recyclable materials is an issue across Canada, especially in the North, where recycling services are limited and most waste goes into landfills.

"We'd rather see less packaging, or if they're going to use a lot of packaging, to use more recyclable packaging so that we can recycle it," said Henry Kruse, who works at the Yellowknife landfill.

Shannon Ripley of Ecology North, an environmental group in the N.W.T. capital, said many products are made of Styrofoam and other materials that do not get recycled at all in the North.

"It's a great example of where there's a need for national action or international action," she said.

The environment ministers said they will talk with industry representatives about setting "targets, timetables and reporting mechanisms to produce measurable reductions in packaging," according to a statement issued after the meeting.

The ministers will review their approach next spring.

Water and air quality management were among the other issues they discussed in Yellowknife.