Packaging in contact with food (primary packaging) is regulated for safety under Division 23 of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. Essentially, it is illegal to use packaging that imparts contaminants to food. Until 2014, food packaging in federally regulated establishments had to be pre-approved and listed before it could be released to the market, but now such pre-market assessments are voluntary. The CFIA provides industry guidance.
The Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations (which incorporates some of the provisions of the earlier Canadian Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act) sets out operational requirements for food packing and packaging. These provisions are primarily about food safety and fraud prevention. Although the Act was passed in 2012, not all of its provisions may yet be in force.
Food safety rules are driving producers and manufacturers to use more plastics, an advantage in contamination terms over cardboard, but not necessarily materials like glass and metals which are more impermeable. And the plastic containers are not necessarily being reused, for fear of contamination. All this runs counter the efforts to reduce the negative environmental impacts of packaging (see Goal 5)