An update on Triclosan

Since 2014, Ottawa Riverkeeper and other groups have been working hard to have triclosan banned from Canadian products. In October 2020, new legislation came into effect limiting the use of Triclosan. We are disappointed in this outcome, but there is cause for optimism.

Since 2014, Ottawa Riverkeeper and other groups have been working hard to have triclosan banned from Canadian products. Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial agent in a variety of consumer products, from antibacterial soaps, skin cleansers, toothpaste, and general purpose cleaners and detergents. According to the Government of Canada’s own findings, triclosan is toxic to the aquatic environment.

After all these years, we have reached the end of the road – at least for the foreseeable future. In October 2020, the Government of Canada’s Notice requiring the preparation and implementation of pollution prevention plans with respect to triclosan in certain products came into effect. It requires companies who use more than 100kg of triclosan a year to develop and implement plans to reduce the amount of this compound by at least 30%. 

As we explained in more detail in a previous blog, we are disappointed in this outcome and believe that the Government could have gone much further, by implementing a regulatory target to eliminate triclosan. States such as Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey have already done so. 

That said, there is cause for optimism. For one, the writing is clearly on the wall – triclosan is harmful and its use is increasingly unwelcome. In our opinion, companies choosing to ignore the science are doing so at the risk of alienating their consumers. The government’s own regulations strongly hint at this as well – newcomers to the manufacture/import of products containing triclosan will have to show a 95% reduction. Not exactly a product of the future.

You’ve heard us say it before – our rivers need a strong voice, and your support is what enables Ottawa Riverkeeper to be that voice! Consider this: when the Government of Canada consulted Canadians on its proposed rules for triclosan, a grand total of 4 organizations across the country participated: one regional municipality, the industry association representing triclosan users, our friends at the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)… and Ottawa Riverkeeper! Our collective voice really does matter, and we couldn’t do it without you. In fact, when we realized that the Government of Canada was not going to pursue an outright ban, we asked you to show them how it was done by personally committing to banning triclosan from your homes and workplaces. Over 1,000 of you answered the call, how inspiring is that?!

So friends, thanks for always answering the call. Triclosan wasn’t banned this month, but we are convinced that one day it will be. Onward!