Talking Trash - Canada's plastic pollution problem


(Ashley Wallis) #1

Earlier this year Canada announced plans to use its G7 presidency to advance action on plastic pollution. And in June, at the G7 Leaders Summit, five of the seven countries (Canada, the U.K., France, Italy and Germany) and the European Union signed-on to the Ocean Plastics Charter.

The Charter recognizes the threat of plastic pollution in our oceans and environment, and commits the countries to supporting better design, collection, and management of plastics throughout their lifecycle. Of course, as with most international agreements, the Charter is open to interpretation. What really matters is how the Charter is implemented at home in each country.

Speaking of which, Canada doesn’t actually have a national strategy to deal with plastic waste. But the federal government has announced plans to establish one. Earlier this year they invited Canadians to provide ideas about how to reduce plastic waste, and now they’re working through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to draft a strategy with the support of the provinces and territories.

We have a rare opportunity to address plastic waste issues at a national scale. We need to push government to ensure the plan provides the regulatory frameworks that are necessary for real change.

If you want to learn more about Canada’s plastic pollution problem, and what needs to be done to address it, check out our report: Talking Trash – Canada’s Plastic Pollution Problem.

And if you want to take action, sign our petition calling for Canada to create a national strategy that:

  1. Bans all plastics that can’t be recycled, or contain toxic chemicals;
  2. Makes producers (like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Tim Horton’s) collect and recycle all of the single-use plastics they put on the market; and
  3. Stops companies from using virgin fossil resources to make single-use plastic.

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward - Five Environmental Topics to Watch and Discuss!
(Thea Silver) #2

@Ashley Thank you for the post! The report looks amazing and I look forward to reading it in full! Thanks for sharing. I was particularly struck by the fact that currently, only about 11 per cent of the plastic used in Canada is recycled! That blew me away. I’ve been trying really hard to eliminate plastic waste in our house (three teens!) and we’ve come a long way…way have a way yet to go! The amount of plastic ending up in the Great Lakes also struck me. I just returned from Detroit where I co-chaired a meeting of the Great Lakes Funders Collaboration, and this is issue was not lost on us.

For those wanting some more information on the plastic waste issue as well as practical tips and resources, visit Waste Reduction Week’s Plastics Thursday web page.

(Ashley Wallis) #3

It’s great to hear your family is taking steps to reduce the amount of plastic waste you generate! It’s not easy - we’re inundated with plastic products all the time.

That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to look at the larger system, and focus on what governments and industry can do to support the transition away from our current, disposable “make-use-dispose” consumption model and toward a circular economy. We need a strong regulatory framework that reduces plastic use, and ensures the plastics we are using are captured and turned into new high value goods.

(MDuiker) #4

Hi @Ashley, I appreciate the report’s push for a federal plastics waste reduction strategy. I’d guess the most effective actions will be at the federal and corporate level.

I’m wondering, are there any highly effective actions we can take at the consumer/individual level?

(Ashley Wallis) #5

There are small actions that individuals can take - the usual reduce, reuse, recycle mantra. But really, the greatest opportunity for change is at the legislative level. As someone who tries to avoid single-use plastics, I can tell you it isn’t easy! We’re inundated with these products all the time, and we have essentially no control over whether it these products are produced in the first place. The best action an individual can take is to contact their government representatives and advocate for a regulatory framework that pushes Canada away from the current linear “make-use-dispose” system and toward a circular economy.